Tagger RUETS wanted for vandalism

LOS ANGELES — Sheriff’s deputies Tuesday sought a tagger who uses the moniker “RUETS” for his alleged role in vandalizing several trains, busses and other public property, officials said.

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Thomas Benson, 28, a.k.a. “RUETS” allegedly belongs to several tagging crews including AL (At Large), PDB (Pros Don’t Boast) and ND (North East). He may also belong to a group known as Mad Society Kings, sheriff’s deputy Michael Thibodeaux said in a statement.

“MSK is a tagging crew that we know to have ties to several other crews here in L.A., including those that Benson is a part of,” said Thibodeaux, “We believe a tagger, Jason Williams, who uses the tagger moniker REVOK, is a leading figure in the MSK crew.”

In April Williams was convicted and sentenced to 180 days in jail after a judge found that he had violated the terms of his probation in a previous vandalism conviction. He was found to have violated his probation on a misdemeanor vandalism charge by failing to pay adequate restitution to his victims, officials said.

Williams was arrested by deputies with the Sheriff’s Metro Transit Services Bureau Special Problems Unit prior to his April conviction.

“These taggers are not misguided kids,” Detective Sergeant Ron Marquez said in a prepared statement, “These suspects are in their 20s and 30s. They are adults who pass themselves off as artists, when in reality, they’re criminals who commit vandalism crimes that cost property owners and taxpayers a lot of money to clean up.”

For more information, visit the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department website to see
“LA’s Most Wanted Taggers at:

http://sheriff.lacounty.gov/wps/portal/lasd/graffiti/

To see some of RUETS work visit:

http://graffiti.graffhead.com/2009/05/ruets-go-lakers-round-2.html

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2 men stabbed, 4 suspects arrested after fight between tagging crews at Covina 7-Eleven

COVINA — A fight erupted between tagging crews at a convenience store Sunday, leaving two young men hospitalized with stab wounds and four young suspects behind bars, authorities said.
Alyssa Mireles, 18, of Covina, as well as thee 16-year-old Covina boys, were booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, Covina police Sgt. Ray Marquez said.
“Officers responded to radio call of a fight at 7-Eleven (at Rowland Street and Barranca Avenue) and found a group of about 10 subjects fighting on Barranca,” he said.
Police stopped one vehicle leaving the area and found it contained five West Covina men in their early 20s, two of whom were suffering from stab wounds to their upper bodies, the sergeant said.
Meanwhile, Marquez said, officers stopped another car that contained Mireles, a 42-year-old Covina man and the three teenage suspects.
The man was later released without charges as detectives were not convinced he was involved in the fight, police said.
The fight was believed to be between members of two rival tagging crews, Marquez said.
One of the stabbing victims suffered injuries that were initially considered life-threatening, however both were expected to survive Sunday afternoon, he said.
According to sheriff’s booking records, Mireles was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail and was due for arraignment Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court.
The juvenile suspects were sent to Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey.
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CHP: tagger fatally struck by car on 710 Freeway

From City News Service:

COMPTON — A freeway tagger was struck and killed early Saturday on the 710 Freeway in Compton, California Highway Patrol officers said.
The man had just illegally painted the center median when he dashed across the 710′s northbound lanes just north of Alondra Boulevard at about 4:15 a.m., CHP Officer Ed Jacobs said.
A 2006 silver Nissan Maxima merging onto the freeway from Alondra Boulevard hit the man as he and two accomplices were sprinting from the median across the northbound lanes.
All three were described as men in their 20s, but no names have been released.
The tagger was also struck by another vehicle, whose driver fled. The make and model of that vehicle was not immediately known.
The CHP said the other two taggers were detained and questioned. The driver who hit the man was not cited.

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Councilman’s son charged with campaign sign theft in Pico Rivera

This from reporter Bethania Palma:

The District Attorney’s Office charged the son of a city councilman with petty theft Thursday for allegedly offering to pay three others to steal campaign signs belonging to his father’s political opponent.

James Beilke, 18, and Paul Puente, 20, of Pico Rivera, were charged with one count each of petty theft, officials from the District Attorney’s Office said. James Beilke is the son of City Councilman Ron Beilke.

If convicted, Puente and James Beilke each could face up to six months in county jail or a fine of up $1,000, said D.A. spokeswoman Jane Robisoncq.
Ron Beilke was not implicated. He did not return a phone call seeking comment Thursday but previously said his son is innocent.

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Teen taggers taken down

A couple of Whittier teens are in hot water after being picked up by the police and charged felony vandalism after tagging around town. Damage estimates for the pair’s handiwork top $50,000. That’s a lot of tagging. Here’s the scoop:

WHITTIER – A 13-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl face felony vandalism charges after allegedly tagging all over the city causing a combined $51,000 in damages.
Police said the teens worked on their own. The boy is believed to be responsible for 66 tagging incidents that led to $23,000 in damages. The girl allegedly tagged 126 times causing more than $28,000 in damages.
Whittier police spokesman Mike Dekowski said the District Attorney’s Office hasn’t yet filed charges against the teens, who were arrested Feb. 2 and 3.
Both were cited out after their arrests. They will return to juvenile court at a later date.
Dekowski said the girl, who lives in the unincorporated Whittier area, tagged also in Pico Rivera and La Habra. Officers are working with other agencies to determine how much the damages were in these communities.
He said the boy, who lives in Whittier, scribbled and scrawled on signs, curbs, walls and sidewalks in the east end of town.

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Rival taggers get rough

I don’t know what to make of this story. There’s a lot of questions that Montebello PD declined to answer.

The jist is that two groups of taggers got into two fights over the course of the afternoon.

Here’s the story we posted early this a.m.:

MONTEBELLO – Rival tagging crews “beat each other up” Sunday afternoon, resulting in two people being sent to the hospital, said Montebello Police Lt. Govan Yee.

The first incident occurred around 4:30 p.m. at the 100 block of 18th Street. A man was attacked and beaten with an object by several members of a rival tagging crew.

Immediately after, the victim retaliated by attacking a rival tagging member, who was at his home on Wilcox Avenue.

Yee said it does not appear that either victim will press charges.

“Both of them were not very cooperative as to giving information,” Yee said. “It’s typical that gangs and tagging crews handle their own problems. Unfortunately, it results in more violence down the road.”

Yee declined to give the names of the gangs, the names of the victims, or the victims ages

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Suspected tag vandals picked up in Azusa

Here’s the top of the story we’ve just posted on the web. These two knuckleheads are suspected of causing about $15,000 in damage:



AZUSA – Two teens were arrested earlier this week on suspicion of tagging more than 30 windows at a shopping center during the course of a week, according to police officials.

Azusa Police first received reports of etchings in several plate glass windows at the Citrus Crossing Shopping Center, at the corner of Citrus Avenue and Foothill Boulevard, on Sept. 4, according to Azusa police Lt. Frank Chavez.

Further investigation led merchants and police to discover more than 30 windows had been vandalized, he said. Damage of the windows is estimated to be $15,300, Chavez said.

Detectives determined the etchings to be connected to a local tagging crew and proceeded to interview members of the crew at an Azusa area school. Chavez would not disclose the name of the school.

While at the school Thursday one juvenile, 16, was identified as one of the taggers at the shopping center. The other teen was turned in by his parents at the Azusa Police Department Jail.

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Tuesday’s column

One night last week, I found myself in a bookstore in a nice Los Angeles neighborhood.

It was one of those neighborhoods whose residents probably “don’t get” the San Gabriel Valley — or Whittier for that matter.

Anyway, I was perusing the magazines looking for something to take and read. There were no copies of MAD and my second choice, Pro Football Weekly, was also suspiciously missing in action.

Then I noticed a magazine that stood out among the art and fashion magazines on another rack. I can’t remember the name, but it was devoted entirely to the “art” of graffiti and tagging.

I had to look.

The usual suspects stood out among the photos: New York subway scenes, Amsterdam murals, boxcars on the nation’s rails. I turned to the index and found “Drive-by Shootings.” (I’m sure you get the double entendre). The story devoted itself to decoding the gang graffiti of Los Angeles; marvelling along the way about the artistry of the whole endeavor.

In recent days there’s been tales in the news about these virtuosos.

Like the story of a tagger who uses the moniker “Buket. Police busted “Bucket”, a San Jose State art school grad and Las Vegas convention planner, after several videos cropped up on YouTube featuring the “artist” at work on freeway overpasses and in concrete riverbeds.

One of the most viewed stories on the newspaper’s Web site last week told the story of a man and a teen arrested in Covina on suspicion of taking part in a spree that tagged 22 locations along Azusa Avenue.

A few weeks ago we ran a story about a Baldwin Park tagging crew suspected of involvement in the November slayings of a teen-ager and his father in front of their Downing Avenue home.

Where’s the romanticism in these stories?

Long before I worked in the newspaper business, I sold patio covers and awnings for my then father-in-law. He had (and has) an office on Mission Boulevard in Pomona. I can remember getting mad at the taggers who would occasionally graffiti the building. I thought about ways to intervene, but never really did anything — and never thought of the indecipherable scribbling as art.

That wasn’t the case with Robert Whitehead, of Bassett, or Maria Hicks, of Pico Rivera. They intervened and got dead for the trouble. I’m sure there’s countless similar stories. I know a guy who paints over graffiti for a living and he’s told me that he’s been intimidated by taggers –and even shot at — trying to make one San Gabriel Valley neighborhood a little better.

In Whitehead’s case, he was killed March 6, 2006 trying to stop two gang members from tagging up a neighbor’s wall. During the investigation into the slaying, detectives with the Los Angeles County sheriff’s homicide bureau uncovered a suspected connection between the Mexican Mafia prison gang, La Eme, and Whitehead’s alleged killers.

As for Hicks, a 58-year-old grandmother, she was shot to death on a warm Friday night last August after confronting a group of taggers in the neighborhood where she lived her entire life.

That was going through my mind as I flipped through pages deciphering the clever, angular strokes of some guy named “Sneaky” or “Sapo” or “Spooky” or “Snoopy” or “Lil Shooter.” It occurred to me that this might as well be some ivory tower sociologist’s look at a foreign country or the take of a preening self-important East Coast artiste.

Then I got it.

They don’t live here.

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Fight fire with water

 A Whittier man has found a unique way to keep taggers away from his building — motion activated sprinklers. This comes 24-hours Vancouver:

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Tired of tagging, a California business owner is spraying back at graffiti artists thanks to B.C. technology.

Scott Railsback was at his wit’s end after his construction company in Whittier, Calif. – 12 miles east of Los Angeles – became a target for graffiti artists.

“Every couple of days, I was out there painting over [the graffiti],” Railsback told 24 hours. “We tried cameras and lights and anti-graffiti paint but none of it worked. Every time the sun came up, it was back.”

The Mure Corporation vice-president quickly blew through thousands of dollars covering up taggers’ work and went looking for a solution.

That’s when he came across Victoria-based Contech Electronics’ ScareCrow sprinklers.

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