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.