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Committing crime doesn’t pay, but reporting it does

SOLANA BEACH — Crime doesn’t pay for the criminal, but City Council just doubled the salary for those who report graffiti in Solana Beach.
At the Oct. 8 meeting, council members unanimously approved the first reading of a graffiti ordinance changing the reward program to a three-tiered system that encourages greater participation in reporting the crime.
“Information provided by witnesses is one of the most effective tools law enforcement has to combat graffiti,” the staff report states.
Under the new program, reward money is offered at three intervals during prosecution. There is an initial $250 payout when a suspect is identified and the investigation leads to a recommendation for prosecution. Another $250 is awarded if the district attorney’s office pursues prosecution. Finally, if the suspect is convicted, confesses or accepts a plea, there is a $500 payout, for a total possible reward of $1,000. City staff will monitor the progress of each case, eliminating the need for citizen tracking.
Previously, anyone who identified a graffiti suspect could receive a maximum award of $500 only if an arrest resulted in a conviction, confession or plea. To claim the reward, the witness was responsible for monitoring the case and providing proof to the city that one of the three outcomes occurred.
The new ordinance also identifies paintball markers, or guns, and all etching products — not just those that etch glass — as graffiti implements.
Council adopted other revisions to the ordinance in April after law enforcement reported a recent increase in the crime. Staff was directed to clarify some of the language and develop a new reward system.