Graffiti eradication efforts in SF broaden 

San Franciscans could soon be able to upload photos of graffiti to a database where police can use the information to catch the vandals.

The effort to combat graffiti through technology is part of a full-court press by The City to cut down on the vandalism, including awarding residents for turning in scofflaws.

A “public portal” allowing residents to upload pictures of graffiti may soon be available on The City’s website. The idea has already been implemented in San Jose and it’s in addition to a private police database that has led to several recent arrests.

Police have made several arrests based on the current database, according to Officer Christopher Putz, who specializes in graffiti crimes. The system allows officers to look at the moniker and writing styles to link different crimes.

“We used the system to rearrest a kid in the Ingleside recently,” Putz said. “We have another six cases on him. Unfortunately, he didn’t learn his lesson from the first arrest.”

The Department of Public Works and the District Attorney’s Office will hand over three $250 checks today to people who have helped convict graffiti vandals. The 2-year-old program allows witnesses to reap some of the fines levied on vandals who are convicted, according to Mohammed Nuru, deputy director of Public Works.

“We appreciate people calling in and willing to testify and go through the prosecution of these vandals,” Nuru said.

Aside from the vandalism, there has been a spree of infamous British artist Banksy’s famous work appearing around The City. Putz said those incidents haven’t been categorized as crimes.

“There are actually no victims,” Putz said. “Apparently he had permission to do some of the stuff and there’s nothing wrong with that if you ask for permission.”

Distinct marks

Graffiti figures from fiscal year 2008-09:

26,577 Complaints about graffiti

6,439 Letters to property owners with graffiti

1.3 million Square feet painted over on public property

65,943 Objects painted over

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Brent Begin

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