Austin Police cracking down on graffiti in Hyde Park and West Campus

Some say it's art, others a nusiance ... but either way Austin Police are cracking down on a graffiti problem all over town.

Some say it's art, others a nuisance, but either way Austin Police are cracking down on a graffiti problem all over town.

In the West Campus area, near UT’s campus, you can find graffiti on light poles, walls and windows. You can find it high and low.

"We had our windows graffitied, we've had graffiti in our restrooms and everything, and people will also just like scratch it into our windows,” said Andri Simonds who works along the drag on UT's campus.

She said at times, the problem has pushed away customers.

"We've had people just sit out here and just draw on our walls and stuff, like in the middle of the day, and like in front of the store," said Simonds. "We've had to call the police several times because then customers won't come in because there's literally someone just standing outside.”

She feels excessive graffiti makes the area seem not as nice, or safe.

"They'll just do it in the broad daylight, literally someone sped over here, jumped out of the car, spray painted something and then jumped back in the car and left, like at 2 in the afternoon,” said Simonds.

That's why Austin police are now cracking down on graffiti.

"We know that people don't appreciate it, and they don't want it, and we're doing our best to try to put these guys in jail,” said Sergeant Stephen Andreini. "We’ve made some arrests recently based on the fact that we are spending a little more time looking for it and targeting this activity."

He said they don't believe it's gang activity but it does look bad for the community.

"People are putting a lot of money into West Campus, Hyde Park, and they're trying to improve their properties, and they're paying a lot of money to live here,” said Andreini.

But he said it can be a challenge to catch the criminals.

"If we do, if we are lucky enough to catch the individuals, we can arrest them, however, we do need a victim, so if it's 2, 3, 4 in the morning, we've got to find out who owns that property," said Andreini. "It's typically college-age students or college-age kids that are doing it. Typically they'll be on foot or they'll be on a skateboard."

And while some believe graffiti is an art, Andreini says they're working to protect the hard work of other legal Austin artists.

"The tagging is basically defacing the art,” said Andreini.

"It hurts because this beautiful art has been destroyed in a way, disrespected, cause someone put so much into this detail and it was just beautiful, and it was kind of destroyed,” said Simonds.

Austin police ask if you see anyone spray painting graffiti, give them a call. They said it's important to note what they're wearing and which way they went.

Most of these crimes are misdemeanors, but Sergeant Andreini said if you spray paint on a church or religious institution it's a felony.

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