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San Diego MTS officers arrest alleged graffiti vandals

San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) undercover security officers arrested five juveniles in the past two weeks who are alleged to be responsible for 277 individual graffiti “tags” covering 3,580 square feet and causing damage estimated at more than $25,000.

The vandals were witnessed tagging MTS property, agency officials said in a prepared statement. Photos of the tags were entered into the “Graffiti Tracker” system, which maintains a database of tags throughout the region. Graffiti Tracker found 277 matching tags on public and private property attributable to the individuals, MTS officials said.

MTS, the North County Transit District, Port of San Diego and all cities in San Diego County participate in the program, which uses a database to track and link graffiti incidents throughout the region. The information is shared by law enforcement officials to prosecute vandals for numerous graffiti incidents, resulting in stiffer penalties and large restitutions, MTS officials said.

“Each year we have close to $1 million in costs to repair vandalism on our bus and trolley vehicles, as well as to our property along our rail lines. This system not only allows us to catch and prosecute the vandals, but to recover some of our costs to repair the damage,” said Paul Jablonski, MTS’ chief executive officer.

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More News from 3/8/2012