Overall crime is down 8 percent in parts of Echo Park, but graffiti and etching on glass occurrences are up, according to LAPD Senior Lead Officer Amanda Serrano with the Rampart Division.
Etching refers to using a tool to scratch designs on glass, metal or plastic and is sometimes called “scratchitti,” according to Vandal Watch.
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” said Serrano as she drew a green squiggle on a whiteboard. “Some may say that’s art,” while others would see it as an eyesore, she said.
A commissioned mural is one thing. But if any sort of art, tag or scratchitti appears on property where the owner didn’t request its presence, or if the graffiti is offensive or meant to instigate, it’s considered vandalism.
Serrano acknowledged that there is a difference between street artists and crew taggers or gang graffiti. But the law doesn’t discriminate when it comes to punishing graffiti offenders.
Depending on the monetary damage done, graffiti incidents can be considered a misdemeanor or a felony. Fines and jail time are often the consequences.
Serrano said that most graffiti offenders are under 18 years old. Non-gang related taggers are typically 13 to 15 years old, while gang members who graffiti are usually 15 to 18 years old.
The Rampart Division, which covers the portion of Echo Park south of Sunset Boulevard, has officers on regular patrol on the lookout for vandals. But the LAPD is currently increasing its officers assigned to the Bike Unit in hopes of catching more offenders.
If there is graffiti on your property or in your neighborhood that needs to be removed, call 311 or (213) 241-0908.