CARLSBAD — The vandalized bathroom walls of a high school helped lead sheriff’s deputies to the Nov. 9 arrest of a 17-year-old student who officials said is responsible for 241 separate graffiti crimes in Encinitas.
The suspect is a male senior at La Costa Canyon High School who was positively identified after Graffiti Tracker helped link his moniker through use of a data base, according to Sgt. Marcos Ramirez, who heads the Community Oriented Policing and Problem Solving unit (COPPS) for the Encinitas Patrol Station.
At 7 a.m. on Nov. 9, COPPS and detective units served a search warrant at an Encinitas residence where they obtained and seized numerous pieces of evidence that identified the juvenile suspect, Ramirez said.
“The suspect was contacted in Carlsbad at his high school,” he said. “(There was) tagging in the bathroom of the student’s high school.”
He said the city has estimated the damages to be about $13,000 in restitution for the hundreds of vandalism cases.
The graffiti has already been painted over by the city, he said.
Timothy Kephart, founder of Omaha-based Graffiti Tracker, said Graffiti Tracker contracted with San Diego County in 2006, beginning with Escondido, and is now used almost countywide by law enforcement agencies.
“We took all the noise of graffiti on the walls and put it into a readable system,” he said.
The Web-based system uses a methodology that captures graffiti while it is on the walls, and works collaboratively with cities, Kephart said.
Ramirez said that the suspect has not been identified as a gang member, and that the graffiti in these cases is not gang graffiti.
The suspect does have a moniker, which is a nickname, but Ramirez said he is classified as a tagger.
For more detailed information about local graffiti, including the differences between gang graffiti and tagging, visit www.sandiego.gov/graffiti/problem.shtml.