LA Sheriff’s Crime Impact Team Targets Graffiti Vandals with Big Results
Los Angeles - On Thursday, November 5th, 2015, The LA Sheriff’s Transit Policing Division (TPD), Crime Impact Team (CIT), targeted a graffiti tagging group or crew by the name of “PUNKS” (People You Know Killing S—T). The CIT team had discovered through investigation that members of the crew had been targeting Metro buses, trains, and properties, among committing other crimes throughout LA County. The TPD CIT team obtained an eleven location search warrant for specific members of the crew that investigators had positively identified as committing crimes aboard Metro.
At 7:00 AM, over 90 deputies from around the county and from units such as Community Oriented Policing, Emergency Operations Bureau, Parks Bureau, TPD’s Threat Interdiction Unit, K9 Unit, and Detective Bureau, and LA County Probation, participated in the service of the warrants.
Seven male, Hispanic suspects, and one female, Hispanic, ranging in age between 19-21 years, were arrested for felony vandalism. Additionally a 26 year old male, Hispanic, was arrested at one of the warrant locations for an outstanding Child Abuse warrant. The arrests were made in the cities of Bell, Downey, Huntington Park, Los Angeles, South Gate, and Walnut Park. All of the suspects were booked at the Sheriff’s Century Regional Detention Facility, in Lynwood, CA.
Sheriff’s TPD CIT Team lead investigator on this case Deputy Mark Marriott-Lodge, summed it up by saying, “If criminal vandals want to gain “fame and notoriety” by tagging and damaging businesses and public transportation, they need to understand that law enforcement is going to extraordinary lengths to ensure it now costs them significant jail time and restitution (having to pay to repair the damage). Each act of tagging adds jail time and monies they will have to repay. Suspects unable to pay restitution, are commonly held on formal probation subject to “search and seizure” by law enforcement for years.”
CIT Team Sergeant Henry Saenz noted that, “Although graffiti on Metro is not a prolific problem, when you consider how many buses and trains are out at any given time, it still presents a problem that Metro has to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to clean and/or repair. We in turn have to devote time to investigate these crimes and bring those responsible to justice. We currently use several different technologies, including social media, to help us identify those responsible.”
On Oct 10, the Los Angeles County District Attorney filed 26 counts of Felony Vandalism against the suspects arrested on 11/05/15. There may also be gang enhancements attached to the indictments based on the manner in which the "PUNKS" tagging crew used intimidation and fear against innocents and rivals.