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L.A. launches graffiti-tracking program using smart phones

March 4, 2011 |  2:24 pm

Graffiti
A program that uses smart phones to track and arrest graffiti vandals was launched Friday by the city of Los Angeles.

The Tracking and Automated Graffiti Removal System, or TAGRS, allows graffiti-cleaning crews equipped with smart phones to photograph the markings and upload them to a Los Angeles Police Department database.

The photos are used to gather evidence for prosecution and restitution, city officials said.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined City Councilman Jose Huizar, City Atty. Carmen Trutanich and the office of community beautification to launch the program Friday morning at the Hollenbeck police station.

The LAPD launched a pilot project in 2009 in Van Nuys, modeling its version on one run by the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

The program is now anchored at four LAPD stations, Van Nuys, Hollenbeck, Central and Harbor, said Villaraigosa spokeswoman Casey Hernandez.

Once the graffiti suspects' identities are discovered, the information is added to the TAGRS database and may eventually uncover incidents involving the same suspects.

Los Angeles spends about $10 million a year cleaning up graffiti, Hernandez said.

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-- Nate Jackson

Photo: Graffiti damage on a church's stained glass windows in Los Angeles. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

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