Graffiti moniker helps solve Muni case 

A search of the Police Department’s graffiti database led to the arrest of five youths accused of beating a Muni driver in April, police said Wednesday.

A San Francisco Municipal Railway driver was severely injured April 17 when six youths attacked him in the Silver Terrance neighborhood. The incident occurred on a 9-San Bruno Muni bus on San Bruno Avenue about 5 p.m., according to police.

The kids dragged the driver from the bus and beat him after he caught the boys vandalizing the back of the vehicle, police said. A bystander broke up the assault.

A task force of eight plainclothes officers who have been riding Muni for months cracked the case by comparing graffiti found on the back of the bus to a database compiled by the Police Department’s graffiti expert, Officer Christopher Putz.

Police were then able to match up the kids known to use the moniker “COG” to the faces caught on Muni’s security camera, according to Muni task force head Sgt. David Do. “COG” stands for “children of graf” or “graffiti,” he said.

Since the arrests in April, two of the youths have confessed to the assault and two others have admitted to vandalizing the bus, Do said.

The incident was one of four high-profile attacks against Asian-Americans in San Francisco that has caused an outcry in the Bayview district and Visitacion Valley.

Crimes on Muni also have been a hot-button issue in 2010. The Muni task force has been working undercover for the most part, but the group of women and men apparently has become obvious to some.

“We’ve been hearing ‘5-0 is on the bus’ from a lot of kids on Muni lately,” said Do, referring to the slang term for police officers.

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