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Three Arrested in Graffiti Crackdown

Two men and one teen committed more than 90 incidents of vandalism, sheriff’s officials said.

Two men and one teen were arrested during an on-going investigation into a recent outbreak of tagging.

Michael Claude Epps, 19, and Casey James Reilly, 18, were arrested April 20 on suspicion of committing about 90 acts of vandalism in Temecula, according to sheriff’s Sgt. Vance Stolte.

A teen was also arrested, but his name was withheld due to his age. All the suspects were from Temecula.

The trio cost taxpayers almost $10,000 to fix the damage, the sergeant wrote in an incident report.

Epps faces felony charges of possessing narcotics for sale, maintaining a place for drug sales and furnishing narcotics to a minor. He also faces felony and misdemeanor charges of vandalism. He was released on April 29, according to jail records.

Reilly faces a felony charge of vandalism. He was released April 22, according to the records.

The arrests were the result of a several-week-long investigation into tagging throughout Temecula. Clues lead investigators to get search warrants for the suspects’ homes, according to Stolte.

The District Attorney’s Office and the city of Temecula sought restitution for the damage, he said.

The Temecula Police Department stepped up anti-graffiti enforcement last month with funding from a grant the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance awarded the city.

Deputies visited local retailers as part of the program to talk to them about laws relating to spray paint.

“Vandalism and graffiti have a negative effect on neighborhood appeal and also drives away potential home buyers and business owners,” Stolte said. “Ultimately, property values decrease and criminal activity increases.”

Each year, the City of Temecula spends more than $300,000 on getting rid of graffiti, according to sheriff’s Sgt. Mark Potter.

Anybody with information on this case or any case of vandalism were asked to call the sheriff’s department at 951-696-3000.

Josephine May 06, 2011 at 04:15 AM
Graffiti is art. If you don't believe me, ask France. France is known for their renowned history in the arts any their subways, metro stations, highways, and train tracks are covered with graffiti that most of the city chooses not to remove because they still have a respect for the arts, of all kinds. Its okay not to promote it, but what's the point in spending hundreds of thousands of dollars removing it? I think that's sb absolute rediculous way to spend the city's money when our streets are full of pot holes.
Mike May 06, 2011 at 04:53 AM
This is not France Josephine. Sounds like an invitation for these upstanding individuals to go tag your place of work or residence.
Paul Jacobs May 06, 2011 at 08:27 AM
Great job Temecula police! Those delinquents tagged and then got nabbed.
DeAnn Redford May 06, 2011 at 01:33 PM
I've seen graffiti in many cities around the world and never think it attractive. I love to come home to Temecula where there is none! Good work!
Jaybles May 06, 2011 at 04:31 PM
I seriuosly doubt that the type of tagging these two were doing could even remotely be called "art." The retaining wall of our backyard was tagged, and we were held responsible as the homeowners for cleaning up/painting over the graffiti. This caused us to spend our hard-earned money to purchase paint, along with our very precious and limited time at home to paint. If taggers are interested in creating "art," I suggest they buy their own canvases. I've seen graffiti in many parts of the world, and it is nearly always an eyesore. There are appropriate places for art.
poop May 06, 2011 at 05:18 PM
We could save so much more money if the city would stop buffing the undersides of freeway over passes and tunnels, places no ordinary citizens EVER set foot in. Most of these kids are just bored and have no other artistic outlet. Temecula has NOTHING to offer our youth, I should know seeing as I've lived and grown up there for 12 years. While a good amount of these graffiti writers are just out to tag, there are also many that paint only in tunnels and under bridges, places where it is only seen by other writers. I don't see a problem with the city buffing the things that the public actually sees, but under bridges? in tunnels? I've been to a few of these "yards" underneath freeway over passes and seen every wall, from top to bottom painted over for NO REASON other than to piss off the kids who do write graffiti and cause them to lash out even more.
Gina May 06, 2011 at 09:35 PM
Why don't you just grab a piece of paper and draw? That's how we did it in the old days.
it's me again May 08, 2011 at 09:18 AM
Because grabbing a piece of paper and drawing is not sufficient enough to cure the intense boredom that comes with living here. Everything that was fun has been shut down by the city because they are so afraid of kids getting together and hanging out in large groups like WE ARE SUPPOSED TO. Every venue ever opened out here has been shut down by the cops, even the vault at one point. Both arcades are gone, in fact one of them the city was actually opposing a few years back. and you can't even hang out at the park without the cops questioning you. I've been harassed by law enforcement here more times than I can count, I've had guns drawn on me when i was FIFTEEN years old for sitting in front of a burger king eating french fries with my friends. This city doesn't realize how messed up it is when it comes to dealing with the youth and this is why all these kids get into this stuff. The schools have no interesting programs to keep kids entertained and anything the city offers is so poorly funded it's a waste of time. We are bored. We have nothing else to do. What does everyone expect? This is why everyone is doing drugs and drinking and getting into graffiti. I myself do not take part in that stuff, but I do have friends that do and I get why. While I have other things to occupy my time like work and school, I am always willing to stand up for the kids here because I was one not long ago and I understand why this stuff goes on.
TVOR May 10, 2011 at 04:14 AM
Graffiti is not art! Art is art. When you damage a person's property you are not creating art. When you drag down already low property values, you are not creating art. This so called "art" these knuckleheads have left on people's property takes time and money to repair. These kids should be given hundreds of hours of community service cleaning up other tagger's "art". Let's see what they think of their "art" then!
TVOR May 10, 2011 at 04:21 AM
Your damn "boredom" is a very poor excuse for damaging another person's property. If you want stuff to do get off your ass and start a club or some other appropriate activity. Don't expect someone to come along and keep you entertained. If you want there to be more stuff to do in the community then become a productive member of society rather than a burden on it and work to get more activities started !
KJO May 20, 2011 at 10:03 AM
Totally agree with all the comments, however, lets get to the solution of this problem rather than adding to the problem...Obviously these kids are under the influence of SOMETHING which in turn creates criminal activity. RIGHT? So, instead of the The DA dropping drug charges or under the influence charges, why not court order them into a rehab? And clean up the mess they made, personally apologize to the victims and business's they tagged and publish a public apology in their own words. They are not punks or dirt bags, they arent even MEN, theyre little stupid boys with too much time on their hands which leads to drinking, drugging, tagging, whatever....Their actions while intoxicated or altered are dirt baggish and gross. Absolutely hold them accountable for their actions, demeaning them or calling them losers are only going to validate their actions in their minds, They could be silently screaming for help and seems like theyre being ignored.
shiesty May 28, 2011 at 06:03 PM
The temecula police department is a joke , anybody that has grown up out here knows it , while there are plenty of drugs , robberies , and other serious crimes occuring , the most they are concerned about is a couple kids tagging .
shiesty May 28, 2011 at 06:07 PM
Try finding something to do in Temecula for people around the age of 16 - 19 , without a stable mode of transportation and low income . let me know what u find ,.
TVOR May 29, 2011 at 06:25 AM
Sheisty, I used to ride my bike more than 20 miles to go to the beach. I used to get some materials and build go-carts. I used to build bike jumps in the canyons. I always had stuff to do because I went out and did them. I never felt I had the right to damage other people's property because I was bored. These kids need to leave their excuses behind and man up.
Doug May 31, 2011 at 03:58 PM
I've enjoyed the tagging comments, but what about this part: "Epps faces felony charges of possessing narcotics for sale, maintaining a place for drug sales and furnishing narcotics to a minor." ??? This isn't just another bored kid who sprayed some paint on a wall, these are felony charges.
Doug May 31, 2011 at 03:59 PM
I've enjoyed the tagging comments, but what about this part: "Epps faces felony charges of possessing narcotics for sale, maintaining a place for drug sales and furnishing narcotics to a minor." ??? This isn't just another bored kid who sprayed some paint on a wall, these are felony charges.
george June 06, 2011 at 05:42 AM
graffiti is a crime, but so is police brutality. me and my friends were chilling at the park instead of writing graffiti and an officer and his friend slowed down stopped by us and said we fitt the match of a bank robery suspect and we look like gangmembers of a mexican gang, he said if you are part of a for or more group hanging out you are considered a gang member, he then told us very inforcibly to leave the park and my friend said thats bullsh*t, we all started to walk out and immaturely the cop called us a racist slur. he and his partner got very offended when we questioned them to do their job and catch the drug dealeers and rapists and then they got out there batons and ran for us, we ran away and 2 of my friends were hit in the back shoulder and ribs.... this is a story of teenagers wanting to see eachother again because school was out and we wanted to do something instead of face book. i also want to add this community does not have any good programs for teens such as spots for us to hang out at or express our selves, i would love to ask for a spot where there is an art and music center for TEENS. not adults who love paintings of cottages! or little kids who want to look like highschoolers, PLEASE WORK WITH US AND WE WILL DEFINATLY SHOW YOU A DIFFERENT ERA.

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