Another “significant” arrest came Tuesday in the Atwater Police Department’s effort to combat graffiti and vandalism, authorities said.
A 17-year-old boy was arrested at a Merced County high school after a three-week investigation, Lt. Samuel Joseph said.
He was booked at Merced County Juvenile Hall on suspicion of one felony and nine misdemeanor counts of vandalism, and possession of graffiti tools.
Police said they found evidence linking the suspect to numerous vandalism cases that caused more than $2,000 in damage.
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The teenager admitted being involved in an area graffiti crew after he was read his rights, police said.
Officers searched his home in the 2400 block of Palm Avenue and found evidence and “graffiti tools” linking him to nearly a dozen graffiti cases, police said.
Investigators said the teenager’s moniker was sprayed on walls at numerous sites and the alias led police to his home.
Officers believe the teenager is responsible for damages to four businesses, including the AutoZone on First Street in Atwater, which reported more than $400 in damage from graffiti. He is also responsible for graffiti on a fence protecting an electrical tower on Winton Way and at least four street signs, Joseph said.
The arrest came less than a week after police reported the capture of another “major player” in the graffiti wave that has plagued the city for more than a year.
Oscar Moreno-Alamo, 20, is scheduled to appear today in Merced Superior Court for a bail review hearing. He has pleaded not guilty to more than half a dozen vandalism charges.
In February, Atwater police said the new anti-graffiti unit had cleared more than 70 cases, involving total property damage of more than $12,000. Police assembled the unit with money from a voter-approved half-cent sales tax.