A decade ago, the Duncan community dealt with a spate of graffiti and, for a time, successfully seemed to have control over the issue.
Volunteer groups organized paint-overs, committees were formed to confer with local governments and a group dubbed “TAG” (Together Against Graffiti) was formed. Bylaws were tightened up and police worked with members of the community to record and track the vandalism, according to Carol-Ann Rolls, manager of Cowichan Community Policing and Crime Prevention. It worked pretty well but fell short on the judicial side. Still, the result appeared to be fewer instances of graffiti.
These days it’s hard to look anywhere in the more public areas without seeing unauthorized ink.
Graffiti is back and arguably worse than ever.
According to Const. Amron Christensen, in all of 2018 there were just 24 graffiti-related mischief calls reported to police. In the first seven months of 2019, there’ve already been 23 complaints.
“It would be safe to say that incidents of graffiti being reported to police have almost doubled in 2019, compared to 2018,” Christensen said. “It’s important to note that these statistics may be in some ways inaccurate in terms of actual amounts of graffiti around the community. Often times graffiti goes unreported to police. In a single police report there could be thousands of dollars in graffiti reported but only reflected in a single police report.”
In short, the police are saying it’s likely even worse than their statistics are showing.
“Graffiti is a crime that affects all members of the community,” Rolls said.
From property owners having to pay for removal, to the loss of business due to the negative image graffiti leaves, from the decline of community spirit as residents begin to wonder about the state of their town to the tax dollars spent on graffiti removal on public buildings and monuments, it effects everyone in one way or another.
As a community issue, everyone needs to help with the solution, police note.
“One thing we can say for sure is that in 2019 the community is reporting incidents of graffiti to police at about double the rate of 2018,” Christensen said. “We want to encourage the community to keep reporting crime and suspicious activity to the RCMP.”