Nineteen graffiti vandals were arrested Wednesday for causing more than $200,000 damage to Metro transit property in over 500 acts of vandalism over the past few years. The morning operation involved nearly 200 officers from about a dozen agencies. None of the arrests were made in Santa Clarita, however, as Metro transit was targeted, the effects of the vandalism may have been felt locally.
The arrests were made in East Los Angeles, Hawthorne, Inglewood, Lawndale, Lennox, Los Angeles, Palmdale, South Gate, and South Los Angeles.
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The prolific tagging crew “BDS”, or “Big Dog’s Crew” came to the attention of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in July, 2010, when they were identified as one of the criminal graffiti tagging crews causing the most damage to Metro (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) property including buses, trains, passenger stations and more. They were also responsible for damage to Metrolink trains and property, and property belonging to Caltrans, the County of Los Angeles, several cities and communities within Los Angeles County, as well as the Union Pacific Railroad .
“Graffiti vandalism is not a victimless crime. It brings fear to the community and someone, usually taxpayers, has to pay to clean it up. We take it very seriously,” said Sgt. Chris Meadows, Sheriff’s Transit Services Bureau. “Graffiti vandals are on our radar screen. We are finding them and we are arresting them.”
Deputies gathered clues and connections between these criminal taggers and their tags by utilizing the Sheriff’s Department’s new “TAGRS” database. The TAGRS database base has significantly advanced law enforcement tracking ability, enabling peace officers to use a sophisticated system to connect vandalism damage to the criminal vandals who do the damage to other people’s property.
Investigators determined that BDS is the same tagging crew that was involved in a gang-style stabbing of a rival tagger on the Metro Green Line light rail in 2009, and over time has caused a great deal of graffiti vandalism damage to the Metro Green Line trains.
More than 500 incidents of criminal vandalism that had occurred within Los Angeles County were documented by sheriff’s investigators. The damage has cost taxpayers and private entities over $200,000 to repair, and has negatively impacted the quality of life for the public who has to view this damage.
The investigation by Sheriff’s Metro Transit Services Bureau deputies revealed that this tagging crew has been in existence for more than 10 years. The primary crime committed by members and associates is felony vandalism. However, the investigation revealed members of this tagging crew are involved in assaults, illegal weapons possession, robbery, burglaries, and drug sales.
Agencies participating in Wednesday’s raids included the Transit Services Bureau Special Problems Teams of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, El Segundo Police Department, Hawthorne Police Department, Los Angeles Police Department, Manhattan Beach Police Department, Redondo Beach Police Department, South Gate Police Department, Los Angeles County Probation Department “DISARM” Unit, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
During the morning operation, search warrants and probation searches of 22 residences and other locations within Los Angeles County were conducted, resulting in arrests for: felony vandalism and felony participating in a criminal street gang, among other charges.
Of the 19 suspects arrested, four were juveniles. All suspects were arrested for participating in a street gang. One suspect was also arrested for possession of marijuana for sale. Two had deadly weapons in their possession and numerous suspects were additionally charged with possession of vandalism tools.
The communities where the warrants and probation searches were conducted, and/or communities damaged by graffiti included East Los Angeles – Ramona Gardens, El Segundo, Gardena, Hawthorne, Inglewood, Lawndale, Lennox, Los Angeles, Manhattan Beach, Palmdale, Redondo Beach, South Gate, South Los Angeles and Torrance (unincorporated area).
For more information about what the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and partnering police agencies are doing to combat graffiti vandalism, visit:
L.A.’s Most Wanted Taggers
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (http://www.lasd.org)
Report graffiti vandalism and information about graffiti vandals to your local sheriff’s station or police department so it can be documented and investigated. Partner to prevent or report crime by contacting your local Sheriff’s station. Or if you wish to remain Anonymous, call “LA Crime Stoppers” by dialing 800-222-TIPS (8477), texting the letters TIPLA plus your tip to CRIMES (274637), or using the website http://lacrimestoppers.org
TO HAVE GRAFFITI REMOVED:
In the City of Santa Clarita, click here.
In the unincorporated areas surrounding Santa Clarita, call the Graffiti Hotline at (800) 675-4357 or click here.
The county’s graffiti removal hotline is available with live operators 24 hours a day seven days a week. We strive for a 48-hour response when calls are received via our hotline. In order for us to respond in a timely manner, please answer the brief questions our operators may ask you.
Often questions may be related to graffiti on property which is not the responsibility of the Los Angeles County. For example, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works offers information for the agencies providing graffiti removal services to the following: Parks and Recreation, Caltrans, Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), Metrolink, United States Post Office, Southern California Edison, and the 88 cities within the Los Angeles County.