Atwater police arrested an Atwater High School student on suspicion of using spray paint to vandalize areas of Mitchell Senior Elementary School.
Mitchell School staff called police about 1 p.m. Friday because someone had tagged the school, causing about $500 in damage.
Officers said surveillance cameras recorded a juvenile near the spray-painted wall and picked up the sound of a spray paint can, police said.
Police said the Atwater High student resource officer identified the juvenile in a photo from the video as a 15-year-old freshman. Police said school records showed the boy was marked absent on the day of the tagging.
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Officers arrested the boy Tuesday at Atwater High, then released him to the school.
Lt. Sam Joseph said graffiti has been an escalating problem in Atwater, adding that the vandalism tends to get worse when school ends for the summer.
Surveillance video is a good tool for police, he said. "It's very difficult to catch them in the act."