Taggers are often elusive, escaping before they can be caught red-handed. Although he wasn't caught in the act, a 15-year-old Merced boy had all the signs he had recently sprayed graffiti on a nearby Merced middle school.
Lt. Floyd Higdon of the Merced Police Department said Officer Peter Lee was patrolling near East 26th Street and 10th Avenue at 7:07 a.m. Monday when he recognized the boy, an habitual runaway from a Modesto group home.
The boy had four cans of red spray paint concealed on his waist under a long gray sweatshirt. He also had paint on his hands.
About this time dispatchers received a telephone call from a witness who had seen the teenager with a spray can in his hands near Hoover Middle School in the 800 block of East 26th Street.
The boy, a Norteno criminal street gang member, admitted to Lee he had sprayed graffiti on the walls of the Yale-Hall Building at Hoover School, Higdon said.
The graffiti included gang slogans RBL, NORTE, and XIV, all painted in red. The juvenile also showed Lee where he painted RBL on a pole by the nearby BNSF Railway tracks, also painted in red.
Higdon said the boy was arrested on a felony charge of vandalism to property in excess of $400 damage, a misdemeanor charge of being a juvenile in possession of aerosol containers and a criminal street gang enhancement, also a felony. He was booked into Merced County Juvenile Hall.
Associate Editor Doane Yawger
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