Thirty-eight graffiti incidents have been reported in Red Bank so far this year, compared to 43 for all of 2005, according to a story by Larry Higgs in today’s Asbury Park Press.
The arrests this year of a 21-year-old Middletown man and a 17-year-old borough boy, both charged with criminal mischief, have cleared 15 of this year’s cases and three from last year, the Press reports, quoting Lt. Stephen McCarthy.
The details are part of Higgs’ story about a new state law that requires property owners to remove or paint over graffiti no more than 90 days after their properties get tagged. The idea is that the sooner the defacement is erased, the more discouraged the graffitists become.
From the story:
Immediate cleanup is a deterrent, and police insist that restitution is part of any settlement or plea bargain, [Lt. McCarthy] said. In the case of the Middletown man, he cleaned up the graffiti before his court date, McCarthy said.
“As far as the police go, we’d like it cleaned up as soon as possible,” McCarthy said. “It makes people think it’s acceptable to do it if they see it.”
Some people who mark buildings with graffiti do it because they want their tag name or alias to be seen, he said.
“If it’s covered up, no one sees it,” McCarthy said.
Red Bank officials amended the borough’s graffiti ordinance last month to conform to the state law, but some business owners aren’t crazy about it.
“If it’s major graffiti, it will be expensive to remove,” said Robert Kammerer, owner of the Kitchen Gallery on Mechanic Street in Red Bank. “Dealing with graffiti by removing it isn’t the solution. I’d rather see them catch (the person) and make them provide restitution.”
The cost to remove graffiti from the stucco back wall of the store he leases was around $500 to $600 to sandblast and repaint it, Kammerer said.
The penalties for failing to comply with the new ordinance aren’t specified in the article.