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Tagging in Temecula

Graffiti in Temecula is a problem that isn't going away.

They steal classroom computers and tramp through children’s gardens. They spray paint slogans onto homeowners’ walls. They steal office equipment and smash gaping holes into school roofs.

Temecula has a vandalism problem. 

It’s a perennial issue: back in 2006 the Temecula city council discussed what to do about tagging and damage to several cars in the area, and now a recent news piece about a rise in damage to local elementary schools is a reminder that the mischief is still with us. 

Compounded by a bleak housing market, unemployment and schools that are in financial crisis already, vandalism adds to the difficulties local governments face when deciding where to put precious funds. Temecula spends thousands of dollars each month cleaning up graffiti. The school district spends about $30,000 a year repairing or replacing what vandals have stolen or destroyed.

I live near Nicolas Valley Elementary School, which has been hit by vandals many times in the seven years of my residency. I've seen garish messages spray painted along the school’s front retaining wall. The sidewalk has been tagged and sprinklers torn out. I’ve watched teenagers running on the campus roofs at night when I am out with my dogs.

I’ve seen all this, but I never called the police about it. I always thought someone else would do it, but I’m not waiting for ‘someone else’ anymore. To mind ones own business is not always the right thing to do, and I’ve decided to take a more active part in caring for my neighborhood.

Of course, schools aren’t the only victims of paint-can wielding brats. My tract has experienced more than 10 cases of tagging in the past year. A neighbor replaced his old wooden fence with an alumawood one, and within 24 hours it was covered with graffiti. What was once a point of pride overnight became an eyesore as the black paint bled right through the patch job.

Take a walk over any bridge in Temecula and you see graffiti underneath it. Businesses with their backs to the bike trail that parallel Winchester Road have been defaced. I would assume that the owners of these businesses would want the graffiti erased, but there seems to be no action being taken to clean it up. One tagger painted, “At least I’m not killing people” on a trash can. One local park’s trees had swastikas burned onto them. That’s a pretty aggressive act against an innocent tree, if you ask me.

The damage to our schools goes beyond graffiti, of course. Neighborhoods in general and parents of teens -- and dare I say it? Teen boys particularly -- need to be more vigilant.

Does your kid have paint cans in his backpack? Does he have practice doodles in his notebooks? Do you see kids on a school campus at night, on the weekends, or during vacation? Does you kid have a new computer all of a sudden? Or cash from selling said computer? Is he out all night in a city where there is literally nothing to do, which means he must be up to no good? 

If a minor is arrested for tagging, his parents can be hooked for damages and fines. I wonder how many parents know this. They might pay more attention if they realized that their bank account could be drained paying restitution. Adults tag as well, and they can do jail time.

The Temecula Police Department has a program called Temecula Against Graffiti that is comprised of volunteers who go through a training process and are on the lookout for taggers. There are also automated systems that alert the police to vandalism and the taggers can be caught in flagrante delicto, so to speak.

The 24-hour hotline to report graffiti in the city is 951-240-4201.

Tony Lopez February 21, 2011 at 04:54 PM
Its these damn Mexicans!!!! We should build a wall around the border and send these ilegals back home! Its also Obamas fault for winning the election! Damn Illegals! LOL Its true because I saw it on Fox news! :)
J Carabine February 21, 2011 at 05:46 PM
I do not live in Temecula but see enough of this problem in Wildomar and Lake Elsinore. I am glad there is a hotline for people to call and report the graffiti. I like that one citizen just went out and scrubbed it off herself in her own neighborhood. There is a fence a couple miles from me that gets tagged all the time and I often see the owner putting another coat of paint on it. I also believe this stems from a lack of respect for other people's property. I also am dead set against letting your child go "Toilet Paper" a house .. how can this be teaching your child to respect other people's property? The parents are so into this "prank" they are driving the kid to the store to get reams of toilet paper, it is vandalism, just like tagging. Perhaps this is where some of this other acts of vandalism starts? I know a High School Principal that built a fence specifically for the taggers to paint on. That seemed to calm the problem is his school and area. For some people the need to express is great, finding a way to do it without causing the cities to look trashy would be a good thing.
Jason Schutz February 21, 2011 at 06:11 PM
I agree with: Love In Temecula. "If we get rid of it fast, it might deter them. We as community need to have pride in where we live. Temecula is a wonderful, family oriented community and I for one, hope it stays that way."
P. Smith February 21, 2011 at 09:38 PM
The local government is deciding how to best use these "precious funds?" What a joke. They just spent 7 million dollars on their personal mansion (the new city hall). They can afford that without taxpayers concent or vote, yet they are not sure how they will get the money to wipe out graffiti. This city is a joke. Ask the councilmen and women to take it out of their personal bank accounts from the money they received from all the home builders that bribed them. We have these problems in this town due to the greedy local goverment people. Temecula went from nice small town to trash city in 10 years. Get rid of all the city council jerks. You can find them working out in their new state of the art work out center in the new Taj Mahal they built in old town. This city is full of foreclosed wanna bee's who were nothing in Orange or San Diego counties and now have "arrived" in Temecula. What a joke. Temecula is all trash. It could have been Southern California's Napa Valley, now we are Moreno Valley. You build all these homes, of course you are going to bring in the rift raft from everywhere. Get a clue people. I have never seen more tattos in any one community than trash city Temecula. The police force is as useless as the city councilmen. They are too busy giving traffic citations than to do anything else. They have the easiest job out of any police force in the nation. Have them spend a year in the LAPD. I bet half of those cowards would quit.
Kevin Flynn February 22, 2011 at 03:35 AM
P. Smith has some anger issues. I moved to Temecula to get away from trash.....now where do I go?....lol and Tony Lopez is obviously watching too much Glenn Beck....lol
BST February 22, 2011 at 04:14 AM
P.Smith you have nailed it on the head. I have been saying the same thing regarding the people that run this city to my neighbor and friend for a while now. That ugly eye sore of a city hall...that just for "show" a statis symbot if you will. They can fork out all that money and say it's for us, the citizens of Temecula...well it's NOT for me. This city has gone down the drain since we moved here 6 years ago...we moved here because we liked the quiant atmosphere and simplicity of life. Hah..that was a joke and huge mistake. They now want to change the zoning for wine country to from agriculture to buisness etc...what the heck? They have allowed some big wig from Napa valley to build a large resort with shops and shops and hotel etc with rooms starting out in the 1500.00 a night range. I couldn't agree with you more. So what do we do to change things...I am open for suggestions and proactive change.
BST February 22, 2011 at 04:16 AM
Sorry Kevin, P.Smith is speaking the truth! When city clerk makes 145,000 a year along with car allowance...we have a problem. I wonder what the others make....alot! Sad..this city has gone down the drain...
J Carabine February 22, 2011 at 04:58 AM
Where are you getting your figures? What does a city clerk do? I don't mind someone making money if they earn it but I have no idea what they do and if those numbers are true.
BST February 22, 2011 at 06:40 AM
TEMECULA: 15 percent of city workers earn more than $100,000 Police, fire not included in salary list due to county contracts Story Discussion TEMECULA: 15 percent of city workers earn more than $100,000 By AARON CLAVERIE - aclaverie@californian.com North County Times - The Californian | Posted: Saturday, November 27, 2010 10:00 pm |
Peter Surowski February 22, 2011 at 06:55 AM
Hey Janice and BST, I hope you'll pardon me for eavesdropping, but I thought this article might help. It gives the salaries of the 10 highest-paid city employees in Temecula. http://patch.com/A-dlWv
J Carabine February 22, 2011 at 03:39 PM
Peter, thank you for eavesdropping! I appreciate the facts in this argument;). Who ultimately decides on what these positions are making? They must be based on some creditable knowledge of market value for positions. I think every city is going to have it's problems and will be unable to please everyone.
deleted February 22, 2011 at 03:48 PM
P Smith; if you are so unhappy with Temecula, how about doing us all a favor and move elsewhare and take your bad attitude with you.
deleted February 22, 2011 at 03:56 PM
The key to combating graffiti is for people to get involved. Call the Police department to report graffiti. Every call receives it's due attention. There is a very proactive program in place to deal with graffiti in Temecula. In fact, there have been some very good arrests made over the past year of taggers. These people are being made to pay restitution for their crimes. I urge people to do some research and get the facts about this issue. The fact is that much is being done to deal with the problem. The police department is using a sophisticated graffiti tracking system that is helping to hold taggers accountable for all of the tagging they have done. You can count on the fact that dealing with graffiti is a high priority for the police department and they are making great progress on the issue.
J Carabine February 22, 2011 at 04:32 PM
John, I am happy to hear that Temecula has a good system in place and you are absolutely correct about people having to get involved. Without people calling in the number of graffiti taggers getting caught would be much lower. When I heard that Lake Elsinore had a hotline number to call to report taggers, I programmed that number into my phone. It is handy and I always have my camera with me so if I was to see anyone they would be reported. At least I'd feel I did my part.
Don W February 23, 2011 at 03:54 PM
This city is great at removing graffiti once it's been reported. I've reported some tags and they've been removed within a day or two. So kudos to the city for that.
Don W February 23, 2011 at 03:59 PM
Here's an article on comparing salaries of local City Manager's. http://www.pe.com/localnews/inland/stories/PE_News_Local_D_snelson05.27df778.html
Don W February 23, 2011 at 04:05 PM
TP'ing someone's house in the "old days" was only done to one's friends as a practical joke. In fact, it was an honor to have your house TP'd, since it meant you had friends! Unfortunately, today it is done more as a harmful act, so parents may not know the difference. Parents, if you're reading this or know of others that do, and are taking your kids on these trips, make sure you know who the house belongs to and if you don't recognize the name as one of your kid's friends, it may be time to have a talk with them about vandalism.
594Graffiti February 24, 2011 at 12:07 AM
Temecula is using Tracking & Automated Graffiti Reporting System (TAGRS) http://bit.ly/fD0FYf
594Graffiti February 24, 2011 at 12:07 AM
Temecula is using Tracking & Automated Graffiti Reporting System (TAGRS) http://bit.ly/fD0FYf
graffsvoice March 16, 2011 at 03:23 AM
i know all of you are going to dis agree with me on many levels but there are alot of very nice graffiti artists out here but they all go to the spots no one sees and they think they are safe there, they arnt the ones doing little bit** tags everywhere, they are the painters. the real painters. all they want to do is express themselves on a certain level that is known by them. i would really like and love if the city would let us have some walls and i promise you we will give you art you will possibly like and have not expierienced befor, us more "mature" painters would be able to get alot of the little jerks of the street if you let this happen.but for now its just a rage between us and them. i know its going to be a long process but for now we are held to paint those neglected spots. by the way, the "tagging" on the photos are total crap, i wish they would show ours. ill post the real pictures of the graff artist out here, you will be amased. and this art comes from even your kids or your co worker.
J Carabine March 16, 2011 at 03:26 AM
Like I said above ........." I know a High School Principal ( a relative) that built a fence specifically for the taggers to paint on. That seemed to calm the problem is his school and area. For some people the need to express is great, finding a way to do it without causing the cities to look trashy would be a good thing.
graffsvoice March 16, 2011 at 03:34 AM
why cant they do this here? we would be more than happy to paint something the coummunity would like if they gave us a chance instead of this kaos
deleted March 16, 2011 at 02:19 PM
Regardless of how "artistic" your work is you are defacing public or private property. I understand there is a difference between "taggers" and "grafitti artists" but you have no damn right to paint anything anywhere without permission. When you secure permission to paint somewhere I hope you paint to your heart's content. Until then, quit defacing people's property!
deleted March 16, 2011 at 02:21 PM
graffsvoice, go through the proper process if you want the city to provide a place to show off your skills. Attend a city council meeting. You'd be surprised what you might accomplish if you take the proper steps.
J Carabine March 16, 2011 at 03:06 PM
Exactly..... go through the proper channels and you may be surprised.
J Carabine March 16, 2011 at 03:07 PM
Amen John .. well said :) find an appropriate place and it's great !
Don W March 16, 2011 at 08:53 PM
I'd say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What some see as artistic, other's see ...well...not so much. I'd say the same thing about Picasso and Van Gough work. I personally don't get it and I wouldn't want someone to randomly add impressionist artwork to the side of my building. Bottom line, you need to find people who appreciate your work AND HAVE PERMISSION to add your artwork to their property.
M. Lee Davis April 23, 2011 at 05:11 PM
There is a simple way to solve this and almost instantly. If someone is an adult and caught tagging or vandalizing and "convicted" in a court then they should have their fingers cut off and restitution paid either by taking what they own or making them work it off in a graffiti removal camp in a gang territory other than their own. Let them be seen in anther gang or "krew" territory. If they offend again then it should be a hand. If they are minors on first offense then they should spend 6 months in a juvenile camp and forced to visit middle and high schools to educate students on the repercussions of tagging and vandalism. Second offense should result in staying in the camp until their 18th birthday and then the finger and hand cutting should start after first and second offense as an adult. I don't know but if I knew that doing something, no matter what it was, could result in fingers or hands being removed then that would be all the deterrent I would need!!
TVOR April 25, 2011 at 04:29 AM
I think a whole lot of community service hours would be more appropriate.
Sarah Hernandez March 02, 2013 at 02:14 AM
THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! this is so accurate.. and it was 2 years ago, nothing has changed.. and not all of it is "gangs" necessarily, some of it is art, and these kids are bored and nee something to do.. and if you see teens or as you old people refer to as "hoodlums" then it is getting worse because you didnt report it.. kids will be kids and kids in natural nature are going to be rebellious, so everyone needs to calm down and stop creating issues about something you can paint over

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