Boise man charged with $217,000 in graffiti damage

May 22, 2014 

Boise police believe Matthew E. Armstrong, 20, responsible for some 342 reports of graffiti throughout Boise. He is charged with six felony counts of malicious injury to property.

Armstrong was already in the Ada County jail when he was charged with the graffiti crimes Tuesday. He was initially jailed May 6 on a probation violation.

The graffiti is not suspected to be gang-related but instead is “tagging,” which police say is the most common form of graffiti in Boise. Taggers try to get public exposure for their signature symbols or “tags.”

“Graffiti is one of the most commonly complained about crimes in the city,” said Capt. Steve Myers of the Boise Police Community Outreach Division. “People value their neighborhoods (and) see graffiti as devaluing their property.

“Business owners say they fear losing customers from the negative image graffiti generates, and residents say graffiti often sends the message that a neighborhood is in decline or over-ridden with crime,” Myers said. “That’s why we place a priority on getting these crimes reported, documents, getting the damage removed and tracking down who’s responsible.”

Boise police officers have been investigating reports and connecting leads in this case for many months, according to a BPD news release. Investigators say the suspect generally used spray paint, but also other mediums to damage both private and public property with several slogans, symbols or “tags.” An estimated $217,000 in damage was done to a wide array of property including homes and garages, small businesses, fences, walls, utility boxes, city parks and public schools.

Boise police urge citizens to report graffiti to non-emergency police dispatch, 377-6790.

Boise has seen a decrease in reported graffiti over the past three years, police said. Officers attribute the decrease to arrests and convictions that have taken several prolific taggers off the streets, as well as quick reporting by citizens that allows the vandalism to be cleaned up promptly. Removing graffiti quickly is proven to reduce the incidence of tagging, police said.

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