Brian McLaughlin is mad.
He walks all over town and he is seeing graffiti everywhere.
“It just makes things look ugly. Just look at that park bench. I go over there with my dog and we sit there and I’ve got to look at it,” he said.
“Maybe I’m just getting older and it’s starting to really upset me,” added McLaughlin.
His observations are not unfounded.
Ineke Boekhorst with the Downtown Maple Ridge Business Improvement Association, whose organization helps to clean up the downtown core when tagging occurs, says tagging incidents have doubled this year compared to last year.
“We have certainly an increase in tagging going on and it does look like there are five to eight people doing all the tagging,” said Boekhorst.
She said her team is constantly out painting over the graffiti but it is the same tags over and over again.
Boekhorst says it is a big nuisance and very costly as well.
The BIA will paint over downtown graffiti as long as the business owner provides the paint. They try to do it within a 24-hour period but can’t paint if it is raining or freezing cold out.
If the graffiti is very high and ladders and scaffolding are involved then the BIA won’t do the work.
The property owner needs to do it professionally.
“For the property owners it’s a lot of money if you have to get a company out. I would say the minimum is probably between $150 and $200 just to get the company out to come and clean it. If it’s on natural stone then it has to be removed with a chemical which is quite hazardous to your health but it’s the only way to get it off,” said Boekhorst.
And if the tagging is put on a privately owned box like a B.C. Hydro box then it is up to the company to cover up the graffiti, which can take weeks.
Boekhorst estimates there have been 16 incidents of tagging last month. They take pictures and show them to the police, however, Boekhorst says, they can only do something about it if there is a picture of a tagger in action.
And Boekhorst said, if you don’t remove tags right away then somebody will tag right next to the first one.
Const. Julie Klaussner with the Ridge Meadows RCMP says that on average the detachment is receiving five calls a month regarding graffiti and destruction of property.
“That’s been the consistent rate for this year,” said Klaussner.
She said that each report results in a police investigation where an officer will go out to where the complaint was made, look at the graffiti, take photographs of it and talk to the complainant.
If taggers are caught then they would be charged with public mischief and their sentence would be up to the court.
Klaussner encourages anyone who sees graffiti to call the non-emergency line or use the online reporting tool to advise police of the location.
However if someone is witnessing a person in the process of vandalizing a property to call 9-1-1.
McLaughlin wants these individuals caught.
“There should be a reward. Somebody has got to know who that individual is and get them to clean up all their tags,” he said.
“If you’ve got nothing better to do then start cleaning.”