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NCJ Number
Deborah L. Weisel
Date Published
May 2009
68 pages
This guide presents recommendations for effective responses to the problem of graffiti (the wide range of markings, etchings, and paintings that deface public or private property).
Countering graffiti is important for addressing its direct impact on the community's quality of life and perceptions of public safety as well as related public-order problems. The presence of graffiti suggests the government is failing to protect residents and control lawbreakers. Graffiti also signifies the presence of gangs and gang violence, as some graffiti contains threats and identifies gang turf boundaries. An estimated $12 billion annually is spent cleaning up graffiti in the United States. It also contributes to lost revenue linked with reduced ridership on transit systems, reduced retail sales, and declines in property values. This guide discusses factors that contribute to graffiti, types of graffiti, common targets and locations of graffiti, offender's motives, and the characteristics and patterns of graffiti offenders. The guide outlines questions that should be addressed when conducting a local analysis of the graffiti problem. The questions relate to the victims affected, the amount of graffiti, types of graffiti, location/times, and offender characteristics. The guide than outlines measures of the effectiveness of strategies implemented in countering graffiti. These include the amount or size of graffiti, the number and type of graffiti locations, content and type of graffiti, the length of time graffiti-prone surfaces stay clean, and public fear and perceptions about the amount of graffiti. Responses suggested for countering graffiti focus on reducing rewards to offenders, increasing the risk of detection, and increasing the difficulty of offending. Responses with limited effectiveness are also noted. Appended summary of responses to graffiti, 22 notes, and 29 references