Graffiti abatement program cleans up neighborhoods

HPD: Crime drop attributed to program

HOUSTON - A push to rid local communities of graffiti helps cut down on violent crime, law enforcement says.

According to crime statistics from the Houston Police Department, nonviolent and violent crimes have dropped more than 30 percent since a graffiti abatement program was launched to restore surfaces to their original conditions.

Great East End Management District trucks are a welcome sight to residents who believe graffiti plagues a community's aesthetic appeal.

"I really don't like to see it because it makes the neighborhood look like a slum. It is unsightly. They painted up our stop signs, our street signs, our lights our wooden fences," resident Jim Chadwick said.

The cleanup truck crews use solvents, paint and a pressure washer make the graffiti disappear from cityscapes. Not only is it an eye sore, but some said crime associated with the graffiti is bad for business.

"Customers are reluctant to come into business when there is graffiti on the front of the store," said Diane Schenke, president of the Great East End Management District.

According to law enforcement, graffiti is often used by gangs to communicate with rival gangs and mark territory.

"If you have one group tagging or marking, of course the other group is going to try to cover it up and the cycle continues. One group gets caught striking the other one off and you could have violence there and it has happened before, so we need to get it cleaned up as soon as possible," said Daniel Medoza, a senior officer with the Texas City Police Department.

On Thursday, the Greater East End Management District celebrated a milestone in their graffiti abatement program: 100,000 graffiti sites cleaned.

With four trucks roaming the city, the company hopes graffiti will be taken down just as fast as it was sprayed on.

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