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Neighborhood erases graffiti, stops other crime

Created: 03/25/2014 10:26 PM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4

When folks in one South Valley neighborhood realized crime was spiking in their community, they decided to erase it themselves. 

The trouble seemed to increase as graffiti taggers used walls in the area as a canvas.

But after the community stood up, there's no graffiti in Adobe Acres.

"This all used to be graffiti," said Adobe Acres resident Michael Sujkowski.

Sujkowski says not long ago you could barely see any adobe in Adobe Acres. With the tags, came crimes.

"There's a lot of trouble across the street, so we call the cops all the time," he said.

Kids were lighting cars on fire and doing drugs in this field right next to homes, and the tags kept piling up.

"We did have different types of graffiti, we had of course gang related, we had taggers," said Adobe Acres Neighborhood Association president Patricio Ruilobo.

Ruilobo says his community had enough.

"We started focusing on resolutions," he said.

Neighbors got together.

They started by planting bushes alongside the adobe walls to keep taggers at bay.

They also banded together and organized to report every single tag.

"Right now I'm not aware of any graffiti happening in this community for several, several months," said Ruilobo.

When neighbors started speaking up and reporting the graffiti, it stopped.

Wouldn't you know it; so did the crime. 

"I haven't heard of any crime," said Sujkowski.

It was a victory for one neighborhood, but the folks from Adobe Acres say other communities can do exactly what they did to erase crime.

The Bernalillo County Sheriff's office worked closely with Adobe Acres residents to track and remove the graffiti.

BCSO said one of the most effective ways to fight graffiti and the crime that goes along with it, is documenting the vandalism with pictures.

If you can simply document the graffiti that you see and send it along to investigators, detectives can take over from there.

When BCSO receives photos of tags, the agency uses GraffitiTracker.net -- a national database used by law enforcement to identify, track and erase gang-related graffiti and other tags.

In Adobe Acres, that effort has resulted in a largely crime-free community.

"All it really involved was just getting together and talking about it, and finding the resolutions," said Ruilobo.

If your neighborhood has a graffiti or vandalism problem, you can stand up to the problem like Adobe Acres did.

Reporting graffiti to the Bernalillo County Graffiti Removal program is easy. You can call in to 24-ERASE (243-7273) to provide a location and description.

Send photos of the graffiti for law enforcement to check against their national databases, by sending an email to 24ERASE@bernco.gov.

For a more effective report, please include:

•Address (Street and Number)

•Nearest Cross Street

•Structure

•Original Color

•Your Name

•Your Daytime Phone Number


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