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541 v. 509: Graffiti war rages on in Hood River and White Salmon

By RAELYNN RICARTE

News staff writer

March 3, 2007

The Hood River City Police Department is frustrated by an ongoing “graffiti war” between local juveniles and their peers in White Salmon.

In the past few months, both communities have had numerous buildings tagged. The graffiti, which can also include obscenities, always has the Oregon telephone prefix “541” in White Salmon and the Washington State prefix “509” in Hood River.

Most of the incidents are taking place either in the early morning hours or late at night, according to Officer Mike Martin.

He said enforcement agencies are now compiling a list of suspects. Martin said leads are being pursued in the growing caseload and he is hopeful that several arrests will be made soon.

“This is not a victimless crime. Twenty to 25 people in Hood River have had to put out money in the past few weeks to clean up their property,” he said.

Martin said once damage totals from criminal mischief reach $750, the perpetrator is looking at a felony offense.

“It doesn’t take much tagging to reach that cost and then you are looking at some serious penalties,” he said.

The arrest of two teenagers in mid-February for criminal mischief appears to be unrelated to the ongoing graffiti incidents, according to Martin.

He said Frank Kenneth Bales, 18, and a 16-year-old Ninth Court male reportedly used different colors of spray paint in their Jan. 27 tagging spree. They have been accused of damaging the “bowl” at the skate park on Wasco Street, buildings at May Street School, four new houses off Hull Street, a car along Eugene Street and three vehicles along Sherman Avenue.

When questioned by Martin and Officer Sal Rivera, Bales and the juvenile both had traces of matching paint on their hands and clothing.

“This is happening all over the city and we are asking for help from community members. Anyone with information about the people who are tagging needs to give us a call,” said Martin.

He said Detective Anthony Frasier can be reached during the day with tips at 387-5251. The non-emergency dispatch line is available for after-hours calls at 386-2711.

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