Bob Strachan

Graffiti artists tag downtown

Railway Avenue was hit with graffiti on Wednesday, police are investigating.

Many buildings on North Railway Avenue between James and Welton Streets were hit with graffiti this week.

The tags appeared overnight and were discovered early Wednesday morning by local merchants heading into work.

Most  tags were wiped off the windows before the stores opened, but the ones on the walls were difficult to remove.

Bob Strachan, a senior technician at Xtreme Environmental Solutions, spent about three and a half hours cleaning the graffiti from the West Coast Express station Wednesday afternoon. Numerous areas of the station were vandalized, including signs and the bike box, and damage was estimated at close to $1,000.

Shop owners who spoke to The Record were disappointed with the vandalism, and did not want to be identified because they feared their properties would be targeted more.

“More security is needed here,” said one owner, adding it is hard to maintain and clean the property every morning. “I don’t want to pick up needles every day. It’s a good way to drive away business.”

The graffiti was reported to RCMP around 8 a.m. Police photographed the tags and added the pictures to their database. Based on the signatures, police already have a suspect in mind.

“(Tagging) has been an ongoing problem for more than a year,” said RCMP Sgt. Shaun Wright, noting officers are constantly updating their database of names and suspects.

“It’s hard to catch (taggers) in the act,” explained Const. David Robichaud.

Robichaud added the artwork is sometimes changed, but the names are consistent.

There are three types of graffiti: a tag, throw up, and masterpiece, said Robichaud. A tag is simply a signature; a throw up is an enhanced painting of a signature; and a masterpiece is more elaborate — like a mural — with a signature.

Spraying graffiti is considered mischief and can lead to criminal charges, said Wright.

“(The recent rash of graffiti) is a huge concern and it’s extremely frustrating,” said Jamie Hayes, executive director for the Mission Downtown Business Association (DBA). “This is the largest number of tags we’ve seen in the downtown for a long time.”

Merchants work hard and this is a problem they should not have to deal with, she added. “We will continue to work with the district to address our concerns downtown.”

“Hopefully there will be a better police downtown with three additional officers on the force,” said Coun. Rhett Nicholson,  the district’s liaison to the DBA.

Nicholson added it would be difficult for police to keep a watch on an area 24 hours a day, but noted council would like to work with property owners to better secure and improve their buildings. He is also working with the Mission Arts Council to develop a plan to prevent graffiti in the community.