3 Brandon teens behind bars for Graffiti

7:32 PM, Mar 21, 2013   |    comments
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Brandon, Florida- Three Hillsborough teens are under arrest Thursday night after deputies say they spray painted graffiti throughout the Central Brandon area. 

Two of the teens attend Brandon High School.

Hillsborough Sheriff's deputies say the graffiti is about bragging rights- each time a tag name appears on a wall or sign, it marks that person's spot. It's their signature. 

But deputies say all this does is cost businesses money, and create fear in the community.

"It doesn't look good. It's like trash on the street," says Bruce Riezenger. 

The outside wall of Riezinger's pet grooming business, "The Dog House" off Bryan Road, has been the canvas for teens to tag with graffiti. 

The name "Dash" appears in red paint.

"Sometimes it can be good and artistic. I've seen good graffiti- that's not good," Riezenger says.

"In the last few months it has exploded in the Brandon area," explains Larry McKinnon, spokesperson for the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office. He adds that deputies have spent a year tracking down the so called artists.

"These are not murals painted for the betterment of the community," says McKinnon. 

Instead, he calls the teen's work, "vandalism and destruction of property."

Hillsborough Sheriff Deputies say the tagging has been popping up on commercial buildings, street signs, traffic boxes, and poles over-and-over again. 

Teens arrested for the graffiti use tag names such as Dash, Swingset, Krast and Rayck- though they are actually two Brandon High Schools students, and one 14-year-old. 

Luis Alexander Lopez, 18, is one of the three behind bars. 10 News is not identifying the minors involved, but together, the three teens face a total of 25 counts of criminal mischief charges.

"This caused a lot of damage, and will cost a lot of money," says McKinnon of markings that cover over 1,000 feet of a wall. "This wall will cost thousands of dollars to repaint."

And it's the business owner that have to foot the bill. 

According to Riezinger, the landlord of his pet grooming business has had to repaint numerous time. 

"The landlord cleans it up; they come spray again. This last time, two or three days later, it was back up."

Deputies say the graffiti costs the entire community because of the message it sends. 

"The community does not have the ability to differentiate between graffiti and art graffiti. It creates a fear in their mind, fear that you have a community in decay," adds McKinnon.  

Hillsborough sheriff deputies identified the teens using photos taken from surveillance video. They took the pictures to area high schools, and the teens' peers were able to identify them. 

Deputies say their investigation continues, as they believe the three teens are not the only ones making marks in Brandon.

Follow 10 News Reporter Isabel Mascarenas on twitter @IzzyMascarenas

Isabel Mascarenas

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