1,178 incidents of graffiti vandalism were recorded in 2011 in Santee, requiring 12,214 square feet of restoration by public work crews, according to a recent post at the Santee Review and a study by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG).
The SANDAG report is an evaluation of the countywide Graffiti Tracker program, a database of graffiti images submitted by public workers that documents where the graffiti was sprayed and makes it easier to identifiy and convict the most prolific taggers. Santee has been active in using this program to fight the defacement of public and private property.
According to the SANDAG report, 10 percent of Santee graffiti was gang related, 66 percent was "tagging" and 24 percent unknown.
A prolific teenage tagger in Santee was convicted in 2012 and forced to repay the city $20,000 in restitution. The Graffiti Tracker program allows officials to track certain taggers with identifying styles and build a case against their repeated vandalizing.
To see how Santee compares to other East County cities, El Cajon reported 4,412 incidents to Graffiti Tracker in 2011, and La Mesa reported 2,066.
A total of 82,482 graffiti incidents were documented in Graffiti Tracker across the region in 2011, which equates to about 226 incidents per day.
It is Santee's policy to remove the graffiti within 24 hours of identifying it, which makes it less likely for the tagger to vandalize again.
"Physical disorder such as graffiti and tagging that is left ignored in a neighborhood can cause an increase in crime, because criminals will perceive the neglect as indifference on the part of residents, and therefore the community, as an easy target for committing crime," according to the SANDAG report.
The City of Santee website states "the City takes a very active approach to wiping out graffiti and encourages citizens to report graffiti when sighted."
Report graffiti to the City of Santee at (619) 258-4195 ext. 188 or report online at this form.