Caught ... Paint On His Hands

Payson teen confesses for most graffiti appearing in recent months

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Payson Police officer David Blaylock arrested a 15-year-old local juvenile who took responsibility for much of the graffiti that has appeared on walls of buildings in Payson. The graffiti began months ago and, with each new tagging, residents called police and the Payson Roundup with questions about possible gang activity in the area.

The answer to their questions turned out to be much less dangerous. The 15-year-old was discovered by police at 9:17 p.m. Friday, April 14.

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Willie Meyer paints over a graffiti tag on the Tonto Oaks Apartments complex. The best deterrent for graffiti is instant removal.

Officer David Blaylock saw the teen in the 300 block of South Meadow. The officer approached the teen. He saw spray paint on the juvenile's hands and clothes.

After a search, he found several cans of spray paint, according to police commander Don Engler.

"Subsequently, through his investigation, (Blaylock) determined that he was the person who has done a considerable amount of the tagging criminal damage that we've had done in the community," Engler said.

The juvenile confessed and was very cooperative, pointing out the different locations he had spray painted.

Recently, the teen had spray painted the word "Smug" on the side of the Tonto Oaks Apartments.

The owner, Don Knoner, immediately sent his maintenance man to paint over the graffiti.

The cost of painting over the tagging will be absorbed as a normal operating expense, Knoner said, although the time for his maintenance man to take care of it takes him away from other projects.

"We have an awful lot of kids that do cut through that property," Knoner said. "You always have to be careful how you handle them because the thing we worry about is the graffiti. There is a certain segment of them who just don't have that much appreciation for personal property. If they were quiet and orderly, it would be great, but being kids, that's not always the case."

He said that the on-site police at the school have kept the kids under control, and he is thankful that the tagger has been caught.

The tagger may be charged with several counts of felony criminal damage, according to Engler. If he were an adult, these charges could carry a sentence of a year or more at the Arizona Department of Corrections. The same rules may not apply to juveniles.

Whether or not the teen will be required to clean up any of the spray paint, and what kind of punishment he will face, will be up to the juvenile probation department once he is referred there.

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