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Petaluma homes, school hit in graffiti rampage

February 20, 2012 9:31:55 PM PST
Petaluma was hit over the weekend by a graffiti rampage. Half a dozen homes and a school were hit. Police say the school was covered wall to wall with tags.

Petaluma police call Ed Cerar the graffiti vigilante. He's a 74-year-old retired CPA who's volunteered his time cleaning up graffiti in the city for the past 14 years. He's the one police called this weekend to clean up the graffiti at Kenilworth Junior High School.

"It was one of the worst ones we've seen in a long time where the whole area of Kenilworth Middle School was graffitied between Friday night and Saturday morning," Petaluma Police Lt. Tim Lyon said.

Many of the tags included racial and gay slurs and sexually explicit scribblings.

"They identified some teachers in the graffiti they spray painted so we think it was a student from the school," Lyon said.

Half a dozen homes in the east part of the city were also hit this weekend, possibly by the same taggers.

That's where Cerar was Monday, cleaning up a fence in that neighborhood.

"I tell people if we don't take care of our own town, who's going to do it," Cerar said.

Cerar and police say graffiti hasn't been much of a problem in past years, but some residents say they've noticed more tagging in recent months.

"The moment I see graffiti come up, I take care of it; I keep a can of spray cans in different colors in the back of my car," resident Lawrence Smith said.

Neighbor Judy Morris believes stiffer fines would be a big deterrent.

"I think they're too lax on this, $5,000 first offense, maybe they'll stop doing it if they get caught," Morris said.

When students return to school Tuesday, they won't see a trace of the graffiti. The school district says the cost of the damage was about $3,000.


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