It takes all of us to stop vandalism

As it turns out, taggers know how to read.
In apparent retaliation for our story last week talking about
the nuisances perpetuated on our community by brats without regard
for personal property, The Pinnacle’s new office at Fourth and San
Benito Street was defaced with spray paint Sunday night.
As it turns out, taggers know how to read.

In apparent retaliation for our story last week talking about the nuisances perpetuated on our community by brats without regard for personal property, The Pinnacle’s new office at Fourth and San Benito Street was defaced with spray paint Sunday night.

Our front wall is about five feet from San Benito Street, so it means the cowardly act of vandalism likely was witnessed by someone, though nobody called police to report the crime.

We are not alone. Since the story ran, a dozen downtown merchants have thanked us for drawing attention to the problem. They talk about the cost of removing graffiti from their businesses. We won’t mention any of the businesses by name since the punks seem intent on childish acts of retaliation against property owners who remember the time a year ago when we didn’t have to buy paint in bulk so as to have a matching color on hand. One merchant has repainted a back wall every month for a year; another installed gates, another property manager pays an employee who spends about half of his time with paintbrush in hand.

Police say the number of graffiti reports is not up, which common sense would take to mean that victims have given up reporting it. All of us can look around and see there’s more, not less than a year ago. And it’s more blatant, moving from the suburbs and K-Mart’s concrete block wall to the downtown business district, where roving groups of young people would seem to attract more attention.

Vandalism is vandalism and an epidemic of it, I believe, warrants special attention. If this were 20 broken windows a night instead of 20 tags, you can bet there would be some sort of effort to stop it. If it’s easier for us to visualize vandalism as a broken window, we should think of tagging in that way.

Tagging cheapens our town and makes it seem as if the thugs are in charge. It adds to the cost of doing business in Hollister, a cost that is passed along to you, the consumer.

It takes all of us to stop it. First, report suspicious activity when you see it, which means calling the police or sheriff.

Vandalism must be documented and covered up the moment it strikes. Experts say acting quickly to cover tagging keeps it from spreading, like a cancer.

The city and police will tell you they have a graffiti hotline, a place to call to have the stuff painted over. The number is 638-4175. I called it at 10 a.m. Monday. I’m still waiting for a call back on Wednesday. We need something more effective.

This will take a community-wide effort to stop. If you have any suggestions, I’d like to hear from you at [email protected] I’ll print the best suggestions next week.

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