The amount of graffiti found in Ahwatukee Foothills increased in 2011, according to the Ahwatukee Board of Management (ABM).
Chris Gentis, vice president of ABM said the homeowners association painted more than 26 cases of graffiti in 2011. Though there's no official record of years prior, he says it's a significant increase. Gentis, a retired police supervisor who was actually part of the team that set up the graffiti hotline, says from looking at all the photos the HOA has taken of the graffiti he believes most, if not all, of the graffiti was done by taggers and is not considered to be gang related.
"Tagging crews go around and they tag their mark or their symbol and they try to get it on whatever they can get it on, and they compete with each other," Gentis said. "That's why you see it on the freeway signs where they hang upside down or climb a pole. They try to do more brave and brazen acts at times. I've looked at all the pictures over the last 12 months and they're virtually all tagging. The general feeling of the public and our residents is it's still a quality of life issue, which we agree with. People feel uncomfortable when things like that start to happen."
The HOA tries to work closely with graffiti detectives to make sure all graffiti found on their property is carefully documented before it is painted over. Gentis says they have a lot of evidence to use against anyone found tagging again.
Phoenix and its surrounding cities have ordinances in place to keep minors from buying paint, but Gentis said graffiti is not always done by minors and it's not uncommon anywhere in the world. In his experience he says many taggers are middle-class kids and their parents are usually surprised. However, if they're paying close attention and notice any kind of tagging on their kid's notebooks or in their room, it's probably out on the street somewhere as well.
The city of Phoenix has been working to increase ways residents can report graffiti. They now have systems in place to text it in, call, email and even an app for smartphones to take a photo of the graffiti and alert a crew that it needs to be painted over. Blight Busters will paint out graffiti for free, but it may take a few weeks for crews to respond once they've been notified. Gentis said ABM will paint out any graffiti on its property, using paint provided by the city, and can usually respond within 24 hours on business days. Many other HOAs in the Ahwatukee Foothills area will also help residents paint over any graffiti.
The Phoenix Police Department suggests keeping your property well lit and installing motion sensitive lights to keep would-be taggers away from your property. Also, maintain your property well and try to use landscaping that would eliminate bare, easy to reach walls, such as vines, tall bushes or prickly plants.
For more information on city programs to cut down on graffiti or to report graffiti in your neighborhood, visit www.phoenix.gov/nsd/programs/graffiti.
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