Survey: Graffiti down from 2005 rate

LAWRENCEVILLE - The amount of graffiti in Gwinnett is dropping dramatically, officials announced Tuesday.

According to a two-day survey from Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful, the square footage of graffiti has decreased by 88 percent and the number of sites is down 30 percent, compared to a similar survey taken in 2005.

The nonprofit's director, Connie Wiggins, announced the results of the group's annual graffiti survey in a briefing to the Board of Commissioners.

She said the surveyors found the least amount of graffiti - both in terms of sites and square footage - in the history of the survey, which began in 2003.

The most prevalent form of tagging is still gang-related, Wiggins said, but the results were astounding.

"The area where the graffiti is occurring is confined and shrinking," she said. "It gives me chill bumps. ... We're seeing that Gwinnett is truly becoming graffiti-free."

Several years ago, the county began a Graffiti Hurts program after legislation passed to allow county inmates to go onto private property for the purpose of painting over graffiti.

Wiggins said the inmates are out working for a longer period of time, but that is because the public has become more adept at calling to report troublesome spots.

This year, the survey revealed a greater likelihood of graffiti on occupied buildings as opposed to vacant ones and the graffiti is in more visible locations.

But Wiggins said she hoped that visibility would help police catch the criminals.

Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful will soon purchase three motion-detector cameras that could be placed at hot spots of graffiti activity, she said.

While the low-resolution cameras may not produce a clear enough image to help prosecute taggers, it could be a crime deterrent. Wiggins said the cameras can have a message recorded that alert the perpetrators the police had been notified of the activity. The cameras, which are solar-powered, cost $3,000 each.

Also Tuesday, the commission accepted intergovernmental agreements with the cities of Berkeley Lake and Buford to include their area in the county's inmate painting program. This leaves only the small cities of Loganville and Grayson not a part of the Gwinnett's program.