Police investigate gang-related graffiti

Hutchinson police say a recent graffiti spree may not be the result of gangs.

Hutchinson police investigate graffiti with gang symbols.

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HUTCHINSON, Kan. -- A string of vandalism has puzzled some in Hutchinson, but police say the threat may not be as dangerous as it appears.

During the past several weeks, the department has seen more than 20 reports of gang-related graffiti.

"Drive around town and you see on the empty buildings or even full buildings, where they've gotten tagged either on their dumpster or the back of the building or a doorway or whatever," said resident Richard Winger. "You do see quite a bit."

Winger is all too familiar with vandalism in town.

He's the service manager of Pools Plus. The company has become a target of graffiti vandals in recent years. They've been hit as often as four times in one month.

"They call it tagging in their neighborhoods, I guess, and they don't want any other gangs to be," he said. "When they they tag a building, it could be as small as a foot and as big as the side of the building.
Investigators say the crimes are not likely the work of dangerous gangs, but may be of petty thefts of teenagers.

"You can't just leave it. Cause you have to make a police report and the city, of course, gives you so much time to get rid of it, but it all adds up," Winger said.

That's time and money that some cannot afford.

Winger's employer used to buy gallons of paint at a time and would clean up the problem within the two days required by the city.

However, in the past couple of years the company has opted for a specialty product, which eases the removal of spray paint.

"I know our police department does a great job. They try to cut down on it," Winger said. "They have caught some guys that were actually doing other damage, so we hope some day they'll can catch a couple of them tagging the buildings and we can go from there."

Thus far, Hutchinson Police say the department has not made any arrests in regards to recent graffiti but if a person is found guilty of putting graffiti on city property, they could face up to a $1,000 fine and 6 months jail time.

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