delgazette.com

Thomas Felix Campbell

June 23, 2011

If graffiti has artistic value, Delaware Cultural Arts Center Executive Director Nancy Colley fails to see it.

A vandal earlier this week tagged the Delaware Arts Castle’s prominent sign with two black spray-painted words. Colley hasn’t yet received a price quote, but she expects that the Arts Castle will have to pay top dollar to get the previously unpainted grey stone acid-washed.

She called the defacement a “terrible loss” to the cash-strapped organization. Arts Castle employees have deduced the vandal must have struck late Sunday night or early Monday morning.

Colley called police after an employee noticed the graffiti when they came in to start the work week.

“Every nickel for us is important. And when this happens, I consider it a waste of money, time and effort. I’d so much rather give it to a child,” Colley said.

Delaware police also took a report of similar graffiti at Hillborn Insurance, 42 N. Sandusky St.

Like at the Arts Castle, employees noticed it when they came in to work on Monday morning, said office manager Nancy Ali-Dib.

Ali-Dib said Hillborn employees are not happy the building’s red brick facade was marred, particularly since hundreds of cyclists were passing through town Monday and Tuesday as part of the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure. She said the building’s owners plan to use solvent to remove the black paint.

“It’s unsightly,” Ali-Dib said.

Another identical tag can be observed on a vacant storefront, a former law office, at 31 W. Winter St.

Graffiti in Delaware is a problem that waxes and wanes, said Police Capt. Bruce Pijanowski. Police have noticed a slight uptick lately, “but it’s been worse,” he said.

Police view graffiti as a blight that reduces the city’s aesthetic appeal and hurts property owners.

“It’s not a victimless crime. People have to pay to have it removed,” he said. Police advise property owners to remove the graffiti as quickly as possible, since a tagger’s goal is to have as many people see their “signature” as possible.

The Delaware Police Department encourages citizens who observe graffiti to contact police. People with smart phones can take a picture of the graffiti and send it to police using the new MyDelaware phone apps, as a few people have done recently.

It may seem like an insignificant problem to some, but the more graffiti police know about, the better chance they have to hold the vandals accountable once they are identified, Pijanowski said.

“Once we get our hook into something, we’ll find out who did it, and then we can go back and charge them for every time they put that mark somewhere,” Pijanowski said.

Colley said she hopes Delaware citizens are vigilant.

“What we need to do is make people aware that this is happening, so that if they see that kind of thing taking place, they report it,” Colley said.