Public Safety

Graffiti Tracker Aids in Arrest of Prolific Tagger

A prolific tagger accused of causing almost $90,000 in damage was arrested by Sheriff’s deputies Thursday.

Deputies arrested Bladimir Lopez at a home in Vista after investigating more than 300 cases of graffiti vandalism linked to the suspect. It cost the City of Vista $89,500 to clean up the graffiti.

Lopez was identified with the help of Graffiti Tracker, a program used by the Sheriff’s department to track gang graffiti. The San Diego County Multi-Discipline Graffiti Abatement Program uses the software to document acts of graffiti and link them to the responsible taggers, even if they cross jurisdictional boundaries.

Related: County Wins Golden Watchdog for Leading Graffiti Fight

Members of law enforcement or public works take pictures of graffiti with a GPS-enabled camera, and the photographs are uploaded to a web database. Graffiti Tracker decodes the photographed “tags”—usually a vandal’s initials or nickname—and organizes them in a database. The location of identical tags can then be displayed on a map or a list, revealing patterns in place, time and frequency. Law enforcement can view a list of the top taggers in a city or region, look at the patterns of when and where the tagging occurred and use traditional investigative techniques to develop a suspect.

The Sheriff’s department said Lopez was arrested and booked at the Vista Detention Facility on vandalism-related charges.

Read more about the County’s Multi-Discipline Graffiti Abatement Program on County News Center.

Melissa Phy is a multimedia designer with the County of San Diego Communications Office.