A South Side graffiti spree two weeks ago left nine businesses marked and facing $1,200 worth of damage.
The graffiti hit businesses along 29th and Regal streets in the Lincoln Heights area, then marched south up to 36th Avenue. COPS volunteers say it served as an early warning of “graffiti season.”
“There for a while it was pretty good,” said Virginia Conwell, a COPS volunteer in charge of graffiti patrol in the Manito area. “Now that it’s getting to be springlike, it’s picking back up.”
Typically, reports of graffiti increase in the warmer spring months.
COPS volunteers work to document these incidents for police. They take pictures and work with property owners to remove the graffiti.
Owners are responsible for promptly cleaning up the damage.
Swirls of black spray paint remain on the 29th Avenue Burger King, one of the businesses hit. General Manager Jake Samuelson says getting the paint off is turning into a major pain.
When the building was constructed, the exterior was sprayed with a material to give it a rough finish. The paint is clinging to it.
“The way the building was built, it’s a problem,” he said. “We went to the guy who designed it.
“We tried it one way, and it didn’t work. It’s no fun.”
Samuelson said he didn’t know how much it will cost to get the paint removed.
Paul, a COPS volunteer who asked that his last name not be used for fear of becoming a graffiti victim himself, said the Southeast COPS station takes about 20 reports of graffiti each month. The hot spots on the South Side tend to be businesses and schools rather than homes, he said.
The Southeast station covers the southmost part of the city, north to 17th and east to Bernard.
“The businesses have been really good in getting it cleaned up,” he said. “They understand the importance of it.”
While COPS volunteers aren’t involved in looking for perpetrators, they take the reports and work with victims. Many people are furious to discover they’re responsible for cleaning up, Paul said.
“We just explain the law,” he said. “Our job really is an educational arm.
“We encourage people to call us rather than Crime Check because we respond quicker.”