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Guest column: How graffiti hurts society
by Larry Jacobs
Guest Columnist
June 20, 2013 12:01 AM | 1930 views | 0 0 comments | 119 119 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Officer Larry Jacobs
Officer Larry Jacobs
What is graffiti? The Wikipedia definition is writings or drawings that have been scribbled, scratched or sprayed illicitly on a wall or other surface in a public place. Graffiti ranges from simple written words to elaborate wall paintings.

Who does the graffiti? It is mostly linked to gangs, but anybody can and does do it. Graffiti criminals believe their actions do not harm anyone.

How does graffiti hurt society? Graffiti hurts everyone — homeowners, communities, businesses, schools and you. Those who practice it risk personal injury, violence and arrest.

“Graffiti contributes to lost revenue associated with reduced ridership on transit systems, reduced retail sales and declines in property value. In addition, graffiti generates the perception of blight and heightens fear of gang activity,” reports the U.S. Department of Justice.

The appearance of graffiti is often perceived by residents and passersby as a sign that a downward spiral has begun, even though this may not be true.

How much does it cost to clean up? Although the cost of graffiti vandalism in the U.S. has yet to be definitively documented, for many communities, private property owners and public agencies, the cost is rising each year.

Why do we need to clean up graffiti? It’s the Broken Window Theory. The Broken Window Theory is based on the notion that signs of incivility, like broken windows, signify that nobody cares, which leads to greater fear of crime and a reduction of community effectiveness. This can lead to more serious crimes and greater signs of incivility, repeating the cycle into a potential spiral of decay.

Who do you contact if you see graffiti in Sandy Springs? Me! Send me an email. Please give me as much information as possible (location, how long has it been there and pictures if possible). We have a little group that communicates rather well and the idea is to get rid of any graffiti as soon as possible.

The group consists of Sandy Springs Public Works (they handle any graffiti in public areas), Sandy Springs Code Enforcement (they handle any graffiti on private property), and lastly, the SSPD (we track and keep records of the graffiti and then try to determine if it is gang-related, the gang affiliation and their movements. If it’s not a gang, we do our best to determine who is doing it. Whoever is doing it will be arrested).

Thanks to and for some of the information in this article.

Freebie – Cracked Windshield Law in Georgia states: O.C.G.A. § 40-8-73 (e)

“No motor vehicle shall be operated with a windshield or rear window having a starburst or spider webbing effect greater than 3 inches by 3 inches.”

It is a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Officer Larry Jacobs is the crime prevention officer for the Sandy Springs Police Department. He can be reached directly at

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