February 4

South Portland offers reward for arrest of I-295 graffiti vandal

An anonymous donor contributes $5,000 toward a fund to help identify the vandal and others who mar public property with graffiti.

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

SOUTH PORTLAND — South Portland police are offering a reward for information leading to the arrest of the person who sprayed graffiti on the sound barrier along I-295 in mid-December.

click image to enlarge

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer In this Wednesday, Jan. 8 2013 file photo, graffiti lines the sound wall along I-295 between the Western Avenue exit and the Waterfront exit.

Police Chief Edward Googins said an anonymous donor, after learning about the sound barrier graffiti, contributed $5,000 toward a fund to help identify that person and others who vandalize public property with graffiti.

“Graffiti vandalism has become far too brazen,” Googins said at a news conference Tuesday to announce the reward fund.

“This really is an in-your-face (target),” he said of the vandalism. “That sound barrier is seen by a lot of people every day. The appearance of the wall is pretty important to the community.”

Googins said it can be difficult for police to investigate since the vandals typically must be caught in the act and they operate at times when there are few people about.

Someone spray-painted the word “Bro” in large black balloon letters on each panel of the long wall. The same tag has been seen in areas of Portland.

Googins said he invited participation in the effort from Portland.

A panel that includes South Portland Lt. Frank Clark, Assistant District Attorney Bud Ellis and Portland’s neighborhood prosecutor Trish McAllister will evaluate tips to determine their value.

McAllister, whose role with the Portland Police Department includes making sure graffiti in Portland is cleaned quickly, said graffiti has gotten worse lately.

“We’ve had a lot more tagging in the last few months, especially in the Old Port area,” she said. “It’s been very disappointing. We’ve had a lot of complaints.”

McAllister said it is difficult to clean up graffiti during the winter months because some of the cleaning chemicals don’t work in cold temperatures and high-pressure water wash creates problems with icing on the sidewalk.

McAllister said cleaning up graffiti costs the city “tens of thousands of dollars” each year. She said prosecutors and judges are now treating the crime seriously and sending some offenders to jail.

Googins said he did not know how much it would cost to repaint the sound barrier, which is owned and maintained by the Maine Department of Transportation.

He expects the repainting project to occur in the spring.

Anyone with information is encouraged to call 207-347-4100.

David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

dhench@pressherald.com

 

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