Tagging Troubles in Fayetteville Sandblasted Away

UPDATE -- Tagging troubles on one Fayetteville fence have been sandblasted away.

We first told you Thursday night about suggestive symbols on a fence near Tanglewood and Maple Street. Esther Reiter lives next door and was worried the racy work would lower her property value.

After our story aired, Reiter said folks showed up Friday morning with a sandblaster and got rid of all of the graffiti. Even the blocks of black paint covering up previous spray-paint symbols were blasted off.

FAYETTEVILLE, AR -- Graffiti artists usually want their graphic work to be seen, but homeowners want to squash that satisfaction.

A certain tagging trouble spot in Fayetteville is hard to find because the Tanglewood and Maple Street sign is gone, and right next to it is plenty of graffiti.

"It's Mount Sequoyah and it's inappropriate to be up here. Four letter words and male anatomy parts... Now people are seeing it or kids are seeing it and they're adding to it, so who knows what that's going to windup looking like soon. When everybody drives past to visit either one of us, they're going to see that and I just don't think it's appropriate... I used to teach my kids graffiti, but they had to learn about graffiti art not just graffiti. Here you teach it and you go and face it, not the right kind," said Esther Reiter.

Reiter has lived in Fayetteville for 17 years, is a former art teacher, and is worried the suggestive symbols will lower her property value.

If the paint is in public view but on private property a police report needs to be made before officers can take action. Police Sergeant Craig Stout said his team is trying to track down taggers. Investigators document and graffiti cases and categorize the different styles, with hopes of connecting vandalism to culprits. The graffiti can be very difficult to remove, especially on wood fences, and can cause thousands of dollars in damage.

"What you'll typically see is one person may be responsible for several instances," said Stout. A Fayetteville officer recently made an arrest where one suspect had sprayed graffiti in dozens of locations from Fayetteville and surrounding cities to Little Rock. Police utilized social media to see where the graffiti artist was posting his paintwork and was able to track him down.

"One of the things that we've learned over the years is the faster you get it removed, the less likely you are to be hit again."

With the help of local students, officers are hoping to combat the crime with cans of paint thanks to a graffiti removal program called Tag Team.

"Hopefully with the addition of the three new school resource officers, we'll be able to bring that back."

Blocks of black paint show initial efforts to rid the racy work and Reiter is hoping to see the culprits spray-paint skills elsewhere.

"There are places to get it done or to express your talent, especially in Fayetteville... It just needs to be directed in the right direction."

Sgt. Stout said his department is also working with Keep Fayetteville Beautiful to hopefully get local artists to paint those silver control boxes you see by street signs. He said more often than not, artists will respect other artists work. He hopes creative minds will be able to find a new avenue to show off their work in a legal way.

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