Are you the parents of a tagger?
  • For Parents of Taggers

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DPS/Neighborhood Preservation
700 All America Way
Sunnyvale, CA 94088
(408) 730-7610

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Neighborhood Preservation

 

 

For Parents of Taggers

As you drive to work each morning, you see the eyesore created by the overnight activities of the most prolific group of graffiti vandals in your neighborhood. Do you think of your own teenage son or daughter and ask yourself the question "Is my son or daughter involved in this criminal activity?"

Taggers are generally members of small loosely knit groups of adolescents, many from middle and upper income families, whose primary source of entertainment and excitement is the vandalism of property with graffiti. Your child could be a member of one of these groups.

"How do I find out if my child is tagging?" you ask. A simple investigation of your child's room and personal property could lead to an answer. Does your child create and keep cartoon-like art in a folder or sketchbook? These books are called "piece books" and are often used to practice graffiti prior to a planned act of vandalism.

Does your child have a nickname that is primarily used by his or her friends? Does he or she write scribbled words with a marker on items of personal property like shoes, notebooks, hats, and book covers? Active taggers generally record their tag names and tag names of their friends in such places. If you see this writing, look for similar writing on the walls and curbing in the neighborhood near your home or near the school that your child attends.

Does your child have access to spray paint? Does he or she have a collection of paint can spray tips? Does your child sneak out of the house late at night to spend time with his or her friends? Where do they go? What do they do? If your child is demonstrating these behaviors, he or she may be involved in graffiti vandalism.

Obviously, each of these factors, alone, does not necessarily point to tagging; however, together they make a circumstantial case. As a parent, you have a legal and moral responsibility to find out what your child is doing when he or she is not a home. If you do not know you should find out for the child's sake, as well as your own, since you may be civilly or criminally liable for your child's behavior.

There are three distinct types of graffiti vandalism and motivation:

  • Hate Crime Graffiti - This graffiti is motivated by personal or group prejudice, hatred, dispute, racial or religious discrimination, and is the rarest type.
  • Gang Graffiti - This graffiti is generally perpetrated by members of violent street gangs whose primary purpose is to announce the superiority of a specific street gang in a specific neighborhood, identifying the gang's "turf."
  • Tagger Graffiti - This graffiti is committed by individuals and groups of kids for the sole purpose of establishing identity and recognition for themselves among their peers, generally other taggers. Putting their tag names up in highly visible areas or dangerous places increases the recognition, or "fame" value of the effort.

Tagger crews, unlike gangs, are usually not territorial, and individual taggers will display their "art" wherever they find a clean wall or window. Due to the danger of being observed or arrested, most individual taggers will apply their trade in the hours between midnight and dawn.

Tagger graffiti is increasing at an alarming rate. It is appearing in even the most affluent neighborhoods and business districts. Taggers are becoming more aggressive and see areas that are monitored by police and private security as challenges. The millions of dollars in property damage caused by graffiti represents a tremendous burden on property owners and businesses. The sad fact is that most of these crimes are unreported and citizens are reluctant to get involved.

Graffiti has an economic effect on the communities that allow it to proliferate. Businesses suffer from a drop in sales because customers are reluctant to come into areas where they are afraid of crime. Property owners find it hard to sell and rent properties and potential buyers and renters go elsewhere to what appears to be  safer neighborhoods. It very is important that more citizens get involved.

The prosecution and conviction of taggers is a difficult task. For this reason, the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety needs your assistance in reporting graffiti and identifying taggers. You may be asked to act as a witness in a criminal action against a tagger. Although inconvenient, it may be necessary for successful prosecution. Because many citizens are afraid of retaliation, it is important that neighbors help each other to clean up their neighborhood and make it a safer living environment.

If you suspect that your child may be involved in acts of graffiti, contact the Neighborhood Resource Officer assigned to your neighborhood or child’s school. They can be reached by calling (408) 730-7140.

City of Sunnyvale

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(408) 730-7500

  • Sunnyvale City Hall
  • 456 W. Olive Ave.
  • Sunnyvale, CA 94086
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