Surveillance cameras catch vandals tagging San Jose City Hall

SAN JOSE (KGO) -- Security cameras are proving to be no deterrent as taggers have started to spray graffiti at San Jose's City Hall. Walls there have been targeted twice in a week, even as video shows bystanders walking in the vicinity and not intervening. Residents have been complaining that graffiti reappears as fast as it's cleaned up.

Surveillance video taken on Monday at San Jose City Hall shows a group of about eight people hanging out in the area when two of them climbed the plaza wall.

What's described as "gang-related" graffiti was spotted in several spots, including on the wall where those two people were seen climbing on the surveillance video the night before.

City staff told the Mercury News this happens almost weekly and they're looking into lights. In fact, last Wednesday, two people were caught on another surveillance camera located at the 4th Street alley. City officials aren't sure if they're the same people from this past Monday night. The graffiti has been removed, for the most part.

"It certainly discouraging to see graffiti everywhere and that's why it's so important in partnership with our community that we do everything we can to get the graffiti tags down as quickly as possible, because that's the greatest deterrent to any graffiti coming up again," said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

Laura Schneider with Bay Cities Lock & Safe added, "I think it's a matter of when it happens to you, all of a sudden now it's personal, and now you have skin in the game, and you want something done about it."
Schneider's locksmith business near downtown is sporting graffiti that someone painted Saturday night.

"We're fenced, and there's barbed wire on the back, so I was very surprised that someone was on the roof," she said. "Very surprised."

San Jose says it cleaned up just over two million square feet of graffiti last year. That's about two-thirds the size of Apple's massive spaceship headquarters under construction in Cupertino.

It's a never-ending battle for radiator shop owner Jesus Areola. New tags appear as fast as he paints them over.

"Usually we paint a minimum eight to 10 times a month," he said.

San Jose police said they were not aware of the graffiti issue at city hall. City officials said they clean up the graffiti the same day it's discovered. And they're really pushing the SanJoseClean app, you can download it to your phone so you can report graffiti in your neighborhood and get it cleaned up quickly.
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