RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond residents and police are coming together to crack down on vandalism in several city neighborhoods.
They held a meeting Thursday night to address the problem and discuss ways to fix it.
"The graffiti problem is running rampant in the city, and when I say running rampant, it's in places where it doesn't need to be," said Ken Martin, a resident of the Fan district.
Martin is one of dozens of city residents who attended Thursday's meeting at Byrd Park to talk with law enforcement about ways the public can help curb the issue. Officials say that while there hasn't been a big uptick in vandalism, budget constraints make it harder for the city to clean it all up.
"I think that the more you pay attention to it, the more you notice it. I don't know if we're removing it at the same rate we used to, so it feels like it's more," said Amy Robins, Richmond City Council Liaison for 5th District City Councilman Parker C. Agelasto.
The biggest targets for would-be taggers are buildings and homes that have large blank walls that can be used as a canvas. Without proper security or people watching, it's easy for those vandals to get away without being seen.
"You need to be able to catch people when they're doing that, and if the officer is not driving by when that act of vandalism is taking place, you have to rely heavily on camera footage, and that camera footage is what's lead to a lot of convictions," said Robins.
To report Graffiti to the police, you must first take a picture of the vandalism and email it to your precinct's environmental officer and Virginia Commonwealth University's police liaison. Then call 3-1-1 or use RVAOne to report the tag to the city.
Lastly, if graffiti is on your property and is visible from a public right-of-way - such as a street, sidewalk, or alley - the city will paint over the graffiti for free, but you must first fill out the Consent to Enter and Release of Liability Agreement form and mail it in.
The main takeaway for Thursday's meeting is reporting graffiti as soon as you see it.
"You need to report it to the Richmond Police Department through the environmental officer, and you need to report it to the city, to the Department of Public Works," said Robins.
Richmond offers "neighbor-to-neighbor" grants through the mayor's office of up to $500 for reducing graffiti, if you would like to clean it up yourself.
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