APD officers target taggers on West Campus

The graffiti along the UT drag is an eyesore.

Property owners are in a constant battle to get it covered up.

In this week’s Crime Watch FOX 7's Noelle Newton shows how officers are finding a way to catch the people behind the nuisance crime.

Under the glow of the UT tower are officers at work. Each night they patrol West Campus on bikes quiet enough so as not to tip off anyone who may be up to no good.

They are targeting taggers.

As bad as graffiti looks at night, it's even worse during the day. The broken windows theory would apply here. If it looks crime infested, it attracts more criminals. Sgt. Stephen Andreini and his officers want to change that.

"The graffiti makes the area look very bad. It brings the property value down,” said Andreini.

When not responding to calls, his officers head to Guadalupe to try and catch people in the process. "A lot of these graffiti suspects they do it a lot of times mostly at night time. Often times they're people in their late teens, early 20s they're on foot, on bicycle or on skateboards. They're going to do their damage and run off into back alleys or back streets. They're very difficult to catch,” said Andreini.

Catching the vandals is difficult, but not impossible. Officers are having success.

Take the arrest of Tyler Mitchell. He was caught while tagging an old Jack in the Box. "The officer was actually patrolling the area and they actually heard the spray-paint. Again, they were close by and they were actually able to sneak up on the suspect still painting the area,” said Andreini.

Officers say Mitchell tried to run from them, but they caught up. It took deploying a taser to bring him to a stop. Mitchell was charged with evading arrest.

In the most recent arrest, officers were tipped off to someone spraying this home along Nueces. Officers say they spotted Benjamin Redman put a can of paint in to his jacket and walk away with a plastic bag in his hand.  When Redman saw the officer, he dropped the bag and continued walking away.

He couldn't get out of it. As officers say Redman's hands were covered in black paint. Redman was charged with graffiti and public intoxication. He told officers it was his first time.

"I think if we try to get some of these guys in jail maybe the word gets out that we're out looking for them then hopefully these people will go elsewhere,” said Andreini.

Arrests may be difficult to come by, but Andreini is proud of what they've been able to do so far.

"I think if we clean the area up and it looks like it's a better, well-kept area hopefully it will deter other criminals. There's no way to say for sure. We can try our best efforts,” said Andreini

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