WEST SEATTLE CRIME WATCH: Tagging vandals strike big; how to fight back

FIRST REPORT, 12:45 PM: Thanks for the tips – we went to The Junction to check out reader reports about major tagging vandalism overnight, with huge tags painted in at least one bus shelter as well as multiple large tags on the bricks on the north side of the Senior Center of West Seattle. When we arrived, we found Mike already at work with a pressure washer, getting rid of the vandalism outside the Senior Center. There are other tags on various structures, and cleanup is obviously a big time and money drain for building owners, but the best way to deter more of this is to clean it up as fast as possible, police advise – whether by washing or paintover (and cleanup IS required). We had to leave The Junction before checking on the Route 50 shelter from which Rich had sent a photo showing a huge tag covering almost all the etched glass, but we advised him to call the Metro graffiti/vandalism hotline to report it for cleanup – 206-477-3850. The city also has a hotline for graffiti vandalism on public property: 206-684-7587, with an online report form here.

If you see a vandal in action anywhere, call 911as this city webpage notes, vandals have to be caught in the act to be prosecuted.

P.S. What you think you know about graffiti/tagging vandalism is probably wrong, as the Seattle Police detective assigned to that beat told the WS Crime Prevention Council in a briefing we covered a while back.

3:53 PM UPDATE: We went back to the Senior Center to check on progress – Bradi had joined Mike in the cleanup:

We also talked with Lora Swift, executive director of the West Seattle Junction Association, which has offices across SW Oregon from the Senior Center. She said they are strategizing what to do with a few other vandalized spots, like a streetlight pole kitty-corner across California/Oregon with big black spraypainted lettering.

27 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE CRIME WATCH: Tagging vandals strike big; how to fight back"

  • KT August 4, 2017 (2:18 pm)

    …”cleanup is obviously a big time and money drain for building owners, but the best way to deter more of this is to clean it up as fast as possible, police advise – whether by washing or paintover (and cleanup IS required)”…   Would like to see the evidence that immediate cleanup is a deterrence.  Also suspect the Graffiti Nuisance Ordinance is harder on victims than any punishment for the perp.

    • Double Dub Resident August 5, 2017 (7:25 am)

      You can come to my neighborhood to see evidence. 

      I have 3 different colors of spray paint (yellow, gray, and brown) that I’ve used when seeing graffiti around my immediate neighborhood. As of now there is no graffiti and I’ve not used the spray paint in quite some time. 

      Go a couple blocks each way, and there is quite a bit of graffiti. 

      When you’re proactive and cover the graffiti immediately, you send a message that it is not acceptable here. Just letting graffiti be where it is not only sends the message that it is ok, but invites other rival graffiti taggers to leave their mark, much like a dog peeing to leave theirs 

  • Jason August 4, 2017 (2:50 pm)

    The Graffiti Nuisance Ordinance definitely helps keep the community from getting overrun with tags and vandalism. Graffiti is a vicious cycle – the more it accumulates, the less likely it is that it’ll get cleaned up. Staying on top of it is really important.

    In addition to the suggestions in the article, Seattle offers a great smart phone app called ‘Find It, Fix it’ that lets you report graffiti, illegal dumping, needles, potholes, damaged street signs and more. I used it to report graffiti in WS a couple weeks ago and it worked great. You can attach a photo, and it automatically grabs your GPS coordinates for the report. Very helpful.

    • WSB August 4, 2017 (2:58 pm)

      (re: KT’s comment)

      Regarding “proof” that painting it out/cleaning it up deters more vandalism … google

      graffiti cleanup deterrence recurrence

      Many sources, government and otherwise. You’d rather just let it sit there so everyone gets to know the taggers’ glorious handles, which experts say is what they’re hoping for?

      • KT August 5, 2017 (10:38 am)

        I don’t know what the solution is.  There may not be one.  Absolutely don’t want it to sit there.  And I doubt there is a property owner who wants to leave their property defaced.  But using the word deterrence (the act of discouraging an action thru fear of the consequences) seems a little strong or graffiti would decline.   The graffiti just goes to the next available surface.  

  • Gadget-guy August 4, 2017 (4:30 pm)

    All better. 

    • WSB August 4, 2017 (8:29 pm)

      Thank you!

    • Ajwren August 5, 2017 (8:01 am)

      Thank you!!!

  • wsn00b August 4, 2017 (4:31 pm)

    What’s the mental dysfunction that drives tagging/graffiti? 

  • Terri Rearick August 4, 2017 (4:45 pm)

    Are there surveillance cameras in the areas (obvious and hidden)?

    some areas (Midwest) have allowed “art” on designated walls…. seems to help. 


  • Ken August 4, 2017 (5:10 pm)

    I wonder if the West Seattle Junction Association, the business owners, and various landlords could somehow band together to obtain and place high quality surveillance cameras in strategic areas around The Junction?  If the cameras were installed on private businesses/buildings hopefully there would not be the knee-jerk brouhaha that inevitably occurs whenever there is scant mention of proactive security and safety initiatives by government or public safety agencies?  Perhaps if these taggers could be identified and/or publicly humiliated, it might deter future vandalism?

  • NW August 4, 2017 (5:32 pm)

    I wish there was this much attention and enthusiasm towards smokers who repeatedly litter their cigarette butts on the curbline and gutter in The Junction neighborhood into now almost 50 days of no significant rain ,the primary way cigarettes moved along,  its a serious eyesore and toxic stormwater pollution, 4500 block west side of the street directly across the street from junction 42 apartments whom I have addressed about the issue numerous times. 

    • CAM August 4, 2017 (6:56 pm)

      If I recall correctly one of the businesses directly across the street from Junction 47 (in the 4700 block of california) is a bar which is a far more likely source for cigarette butts than the apartment residents. I’ve noticed a significant decrease in the number of cigarette butts in the junction since they put the ashtrays out in the 4500 block of California. It would be nice if those could be placed more prominently in front of the places people typically gather to smoke. 

      • NW August 5, 2017 (6:17 am)

        The source of this cigarette butt litter is residents of Oregon 42 apartments on 42nd street litter all over the curbline and gutter once we get significant rain they all will most likely travel down stormdrains into puget sound.  

    • John Douthwaite August 7, 2017 (10:55 pm)

      Whole different ballgame, sorry

  • Michael G August 4, 2017 (5:40 pm)

    How about a big reward for capture of these taggers, These jerks would rat on their

    buds if the price was right. Anonymous, Of coarse

  • Erithan August 4, 2017 (5:43 pm)

    I had noticed graffiti in junction plaza park this morning to.=( (from my apartment)

    been a a few new faces last few days “hanging out”….*sigh* (legit worried about a fire  the sprinklers got stopped up says after they were put in over a month ago.)

    pardon wording, to hot!

  • CLL in Gatewood August 4, 2017 (5:44 pm)

    I just noticed today a large tag on the top front of the Admiral Safeway above a metal door canopy.  Not sure if the management knows about it so I was going to call to let them know.  It’s disrespectful and wastes time and money having to cover up the vandalism.

  • JayDee August 4, 2017 (6:04 pm)

    Could they seal the brick and mortar? Spray paint is easy to remove on non-porous surfaces, but porous ones literally suck. But catching the perps would be best. Between their tags and images it sounds like the police could find them and sentence them.

  • JayDee August 4, 2017 (6:06 pm)

    I guess I will need to go to the Senior Center and contribute…after all I can get a Denny’s discount now…

  • ltfd August 4, 2017 (6:14 pm)

    Public caning of the offenders?

  • AlkiResident August 4, 2017 (7:53 pm)

    It is very important that you take a good photo of the graffiti before cleaning it up and send it to the police. This can aid in catching the culprit. 

  • Kravitz August 4, 2017 (8:14 pm)

    I have noticed a ton of new, small tags and writings scrawled all over the wall shared with the Sleepers in Seattle and Yoga businesses. It’s disheartening that people do this and waste the time and money of those forced to clean up after them. I’m becoming more and more frustrated that Seattle as a whole seems to be going to hell in the proverbial handbasket. It’s disgusting what I see riding on the C-line in and out of West Seattle and downtown. 

  • Andrew206 August 5, 2017 (11:09 am)

    Surveillance video still from Senior Center vandalism:

    Just kidding.

  • Cerutta August 8, 2017 (12:47 pm)

    Classic, Andrew.  ;)

  • greg August 11, 2017 (10:04 pm)

    We are even getting tagged in the alley between California and 42nd.  Its getting bigger every night!


  • Greg August 15, 2017 (10:49 am)

    There is a lot of growing tagging on the John L.  Scott building at 5242 California.  I contacted John L Scott facilities manager Marsha Bordeaux today.   My intent was to obtain permission to keep it painted over.  Bordeaux said its an affiliate building and that she would get back to me. 


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