West Seattle Crime Watch: Fighting gang graffiti

graffiti.jpgThe photo at left shows just a segment of the fence tagged at a home at 13th/Trenton (map) over the weekend; homeowner Katie sent us a photo of the entire fence, with the entire tag, but we’re choosing not to show it, after hearing law enforcers make an impassioned case once more against media publication of photos of gang tags and gang signs (we’re interested in your thoughts on that, too). Katie sent word of the huge tag, which read “SW 13” in dark blue paint, saying, “This is the first time our property has been tagged in the 9 years we’ve owned it.” She called the police, then e-mailed us to share the alert, saying: “One of the key points I wanted to share with the WS community is to make sure and report this type of vandalism. Reporting possible gang tags gives the police a heads up on recent activity.” Speaking of which, tomorrow night is your chance to find out a whole lot more about local gang activity, what’s happening and what to watch out for, when a Seattle Police Gang Unit sergeant speaks at the West Seattle Crime Prevention Council‘s monthly meeting — all invited — 7 pm, Southwest Precinct meeting room (Webster/Delridge; here’s a map).

35 Replies to "West Seattle Crime Watch: Fighting gang graffiti"

  • gw September 15, 2008 (10:24 am)

    WSB- RE: publishing graffiti tags- I agree with the law, publishing gang tags only helps give “cred” these “wannabe” gangsters.

    Two other neighbors were hit near 10th and Trenton as well. SPD was called.

  • Ryan Marshall September 15, 2008 (10:39 am)

    Ha. (and a mirthless ‘ha’ at that) I was just wondering about this topic. I live in Highland Park and I noticed the same tag on 13th and Henderson Saturday morning (9/13) on the side of a concrete wall painted white. This little band has quite an extensive collection of tags in the area.

  • ellenater September 15, 2008 (11:11 am)

    I noticed that too. Very sad. Someone was having an open house nearby and I felt so bad for them…

  • G. Williams September 15, 2008 (11:33 am)

    I seem to recall seeing a tag on a fence on 9th and Trenton as well. I’m currently at work down in Tacoma but will look for it on my way home tonight.

  • Trissa September 15, 2008 (12:08 pm)

    I agree that media should not show the tagging- it only gives them a larger audience!

  • Katie McA September 15, 2008 (12:42 pm)

    Agreed! Thanks for not showing the tag and giving the little punks an audience. I’m so sorry that happened! West Seattle is a gorgeous area, and it’s a real shame that people have to go around making it look trashy by tagging.

  • Chris September 15, 2008 (12:44 pm)

    16th and Trenton got tagged as well.

  • old timer September 15, 2008 (12:46 pm)

    Media coverage = celebrity.
    Only show faces as they are led to jail AFTER conviction.

  • G. Williams September 15, 2008 (12:50 pm)

    On a possibly related note, I’ve also occasionally encountered tags on trees at Westcrest Park. I can’t remember exactly where, though. Who should that be reported to? SPD? Parks department? Both?

  • d September 15, 2008 (12:59 pm)

    Saw another new fence tag just this AM on a fence at 9th & Cloverdale.

  • Bob Loblaw September 15, 2008 (1:02 pm)

    Just out of curiosity, how many people have ever witnessed tagging or graffiti in progress? Given the amount seen around town (and other towns the Loblaws have lived in) I don’t think I’ve ever seen somebody doing this. I have been known to keep some odd hours, too. It’ snot like I would confront them or anything. Just curious.

  • Bob Loblaw September 15, 2008 (1:03 pm)

    oops. “It’ snot” should be “It’s not,” obviously.

    hee hee

  • WSB September 15, 2008 (1:21 pm)

    Bob – Some years back while driving home from a late shift at my ex-TV station on Lake Union, I spotted graffiti vandals at work in the Battery Street Tunnel. Probably 2, 3 am. Called 911 immediately. Don’t know what happened after that, but did my part, at least – TR

  • G. Williams September 15, 2008 (1:32 pm)

    D: That may be the one I think I remember from yesterday. Was it on a fence in front of a day care center? If so, I think it was there early yesterday evening.

  • WSB September 15, 2008 (2:00 pm)

    GW – Start with the Parks Department. I communicated with someone recently (can’t remember if it was in e-mail, forum, main page, or elsewhere) who said they tried to call the police about park graffiti and the police said the Parks Department had to report it since they were the “victim.” Although you might as well call the nonemergency police number too, to see what they say, in case that’s not necessarily so. I have to call the SW Precinct about something this afternoon so I will find out what their advice is.

  • GenHillOne September 15, 2008 (2:37 pm)

    In agreement, no extra publicity and removal ASAP. Although…I’d be tempted to add “are a bunch of losers” underneath the name and leave it up for a day or two. Probably not a good idea, but I’d be tempted!

  • Alvis September 15, 2008 (2:56 pm)

    When you notice taggers in the act and call 911 to report, it’s generally a good idea to say you think the kids are doing drugs. That will prompt a faster police arrival and without diverting them from true emergencies.

  • Babs September 15, 2008 (3:33 pm)

    Yes make them accountable, arrest, clean-up, and pay damages. Maybe gangs or whoever thinks “tagging” is so vital to everyday life should set up their own website and tag away with code.

  • G. Williams September 15, 2008 (3:39 pm)

    Thanks, WSB. I will do that the very next time I see it!

  • 16th & Trenton September 15, 2008 (5:16 pm)

    so, I called the police non-emergency line to report the graffiti on the fence at 16th & trenton. They said because I was not the owner of the property, I couldn’t report it.

  • Pete September 15, 2008 (7:14 pm)

    Do not under any circumstances publish pictures of the tagging. PLEASE!!!!!

    Also, as soon as you see it call someone and report it….or go online and report it to the graffiti hotline. If it is in your neighborhood be a leader and get some paint and paint it out as soon as you see it. Keep doing this over and over until it stops. Trust me when I tell you that this works. We do this here in my neighborhood and we have not been hit in a while.

    The city graffiti rangers will provide you with everything that you need if you do not have the personal resources to buy the paint and the brushes. It takes everyone in the neighborhood to combat this raping of our community. Do not let them win….take back our community one tag at a time.

  • Pat September 15, 2008 (7:47 pm)

    Thistle near the park (Highland) also has a good amt of this SV 13 graffiti near 11th. They also usually tag the roof of the bathroom in the middle of the park.

  • HighlandParkster September 15, 2008 (8:59 pm)

    May I deduct the cost of installing and maintaining surveillance cameras all over my property from my property taxes? I pay a LOT of money every year to live in Seattle. I pay for the maintenance of the sidewalks that carry the kids who litter in my yard to and from school everyday. I also pay for their school, where they are apparently not learning that littering your neighbor’s yard is not nice. I pay for the worthless police who NEVER drive down my crime-ridden street in the heart of Highland Park Graffitiland.
    When we had our meeting with the SW Precinct, they acted shocked and incredulous that there was drug and graffiti activity going on weekly on our block. The precinct headquarters is less than 1/4 mile from where I live. Shouldn’t the police know what’s going on in their own neighborhood? They don’t.
    So, we’re on our own. To catch the petty metal thieves and graffiti “artists” we’ll all have to install multiple cameras and hope to catch a face while someone is vandalizing or stealing from our property. Take down your wood fence. Have plenty of extra paint on hand for your painted fence.
    I have to chain down everything in my yard or it disappears. I know the police can’t be everywhere, but WHERE ARE THEY?!

  • d September 15, 2008 (9:17 pm)

    The fence I mentioned earlier today has been painted over, in a different color, so the owners are still going to have to paint their entire fence. But, the graffiti is covered.

    HPster – Would attending, or perhaps starting, a Block Watch help, I wonder? I’ve heard tell they are effective once they are organized.

    Pete, since you brought it up…What is the # of the Graffiti Hotline?
    Where can the Graffiti Rangers be contacted?


  • HighlandParkster September 15, 2008 (9:54 pm)

    d, sorry, I should clarify that the meeting I referenced in my above posting was our already formed Block Watch meeting with 2 police officials and the city attorney. Each city official was more shocked than the other that crimes were occurring on our block. Drugs? Here in West Seattle?! Me and a few of my other neighbors all left the meeting with the feeling that we were on our own. The police pretty much outright told us that we could not count on police response to our 911 calls unless we were lucky enough to have 2 available patrol cars near by. Our past experiences have born out that estimation. With the exception of the April shooting at the yellow party house, police have been slow to respond to calls regarding drug deals, graffiti, fights, 3AM noise, and parties.

  • meg September 15, 2008 (10:08 pm)

    I also am concerned about the recent number of taggings I have seen around the westwood/highland park area. Since the police know this is a problem, how come I never seem to see any patrolling at night? Certainly there are enough cops….maybe they only work day shift and only want to enforce school speed zones. Call me snarky, but I think I would rather see a car going 30 in a school zone than gang activity taking over. Just a thought.

  • JayDee September 15, 2008 (10:32 pm)

    Graffiti removal depends on the surface — Nonporous signs, and even painted surfaces can be cleaned of spray paint with lacquer thinner, nitrile gloves, an old towel and ventilation. Basically the thinner lifts the paint, and the towel adsorbs it. Spray paint does not bond as strongly to the surface because it is so quick-drying.

    Porous surfaces suck (as it were) and it is nearly impossible to remove the tag using thinner; I’ve tried scraping but it doesn’t remove enough. I have noticed that the graffiti rangers using cement colored paint, and City Light uses brown paint to mask the tags on poles.

    If you see white shoe polish on glass, that is usually the sign of a strong and nasty acid (if it touches your skin in quantity it’ll adsorb and mineralize the underlying bone–reportedly very painful). This one is best handled with gloves and lots of water, but the glass will usually be etched with the tag (like at a well-known Admiral watering hole.).

    So masking with paint and solvent can help, but speed is of the essence as others have noted–If a tag is up for only a day, the pay off for doing it goes down.

  • kmags September 16, 2008 (12:14 am)

    Here’s the Seattle Utilities Graffiti Prevention and Removal webpage: http://www.seattle.gov/UTIL/Services/Garbage/Reduce_Garbage_&_Litter/Graffiti_Prevention_&_Removal/index.asp

    So what I’m hearing is that private property owners are on their own when it comes to home protection. It sounds like my yard needs some bells and whistles to spook potential offenders. Yes, this is issue can be infuriating, but I just hope spray paint is the most serious issue I have to face.

  • cat September 16, 2008 (2:53 pm)

    We live near Highland Park and have gotten graffiti 3 times and our neighbors the same. The tag was “TRG” and then, “SV 13” [it’s not SW as someone suggested – they have sloppy penmanship]. I saw today what the “SV” stands for: “serano villains 13” [anyone know this gang]? I saw this on a fence on the east side of 9th ave SW, near henderson.

    Also, highland park has a lot of drug trafficking going on: when they are not in their cars parked at the northwest corner of the park, or along the north side of the park, they are on the bleachers or on the benches near the kiddie pool.

    The graffiti has escalated and I will get involved with the community groups so we can hopefully take Highland park back.

    I also heard the firecracker blast around midnight and went out to look at the field. I was out immediately but didn’t see anyone.

    I know the residents along 11th av SW north of highland park are interested in making it safer. please keep up the good work!

  • WSB September 16, 2008 (2:57 pm)

    I just mentioned this again atop the home page but I can’t say it enough. If this is of concern to you, or ANY other crime/safety issue, PLEASE come to, or send a neighborhood rep to, tonight’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting. Besides tonight’s special guest from the Gang Unit, the meeting regularly is an incredible chance to bring your concerns directly to the attention of SPD leaders including the Community Police Team officers who work in West Seattle. 7 pm, precinct meeting room, see you there.

  • Chris September 17, 2008 (1:41 pm)

    Our neighbos at 16th and trenton were able to remove the graffiti on their fence with a power washer

  • epl September 17, 2008 (11:02 pm)

    OK, I’m all for the sympatric feelings for this happening to way too many of us but I’m furious, which is putting it mildly. These SOBs tagged my garage three months ago; costing me several hundreds of dollars, a day off work and all the patience I have left. A police report, five photos and a curt, “it’s only kids” comment from the police, the problem continues. Not only are they tagging our homes and buildings, they come into OUR neighborhoods and tag our schools and parks: they even went as far as to tag the park at Holden & 28th…not only the bathrooms, sport court, and rocks in the landscaping, they tag the grass!!! WTF?
    SV 13 is a tag from a low level Mexican gang that is part of the Sorenos (one of the most violent gangs in America). 13 for the thirteenth letter of the alphabet; you can count), etc., etc. Blue is their “color of choice”. OK, I’m all for the instructions how to remove it. But, it’s too late to heed police advice to hide the tags (just Google images and you have all the information you need). Let’s put our heads in the sand, which is typical of Seattle. We need and have the right to know what they are and what they mean, so we can protect our property and ourselves from these people. Agreed that any tag must be removed *immediately*; the paint comes off with Graffiti Off (Home Depot paint section). But, removal of the paint isn’t the issue. Removal of the criminals is. SPD can do nothing; “their hands are tied,”; an exact quote. We must employ our LAWMAKERS to change the laws in Washington to Zero Tolerance. Those with the power to change the laws aren’t at the SW Precinct, they are in Olympia. I think SPD can do one thing to help by having increased presence and VISIBLILITY in OUR neighborhoods instead of “theirs”.

  • kmags September 18, 2008 (12:18 am)

    Another forum for this discussion is the Highland Park Action Committee. They meet the 4th Monday of each month.

  • pdom October 4, 2008 (9:21 am)

    I’m damned tired of seeing the “snowcat” vehicle tagged allover west seattle. (You know the one: stickers that resemble a treaded, heavy-duty machine to traverse snow.) The idiots have a printing decal business in Ballard, but the police do nothing, they don’t even pay a visit to there shop, where the stencils are still wet with paint and boxes full of the stupid Snowcat decals.

  • aero December 4, 2008 (2:02 pm)

    I have started catalogging tags and emailing the pictures to the cops. Basically a tag is a marking a lower level member does in order to mark territory. Skip the KK Sheriff and email your pictures to the local PD. Typically the cops will paint over these themselves. Don’t ever tag over a tag.

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