Cleaning up graffiti around Indianapolis

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A vacant south side apartment complex covered with graffiti is giving Department of Public Works crews a workout.

They're using the city's mobile "graffiti abatement unit" to remove the many profanities and gang symbols from walls, doors, windows, even playground equipment.

The clean-up comes in the wake of the city's new graffiti ordinance which took effect April 1st. It holds the property owner responsible for removing graffiti.

Republican councilor Jeff Miller was one of the sponsors. He says graffiti brings down a neighborhood with the culprits very hard to catch.

While opponents charge the ordinance targets the wrong people, the victims. Miller says if the graffiti isn't removed, "the neighborhood becomes a victim."

He said when a property owner is cited they have several avenues of help to turn to like free paint and supplies to help with removal.

Public Safety Director Troy Riggs said there are two major problems with graffiti.

"One, they're using your property as a canvas and that's a crime and two, gangs mark and leave messages behind," Riggs said.

But he also noted the writings on the wall can also help "build intelligence" which can track gang activity, lead to those responsible and allow authorities to "seek restitution."

Miller said the problem won't be solved immediately. In fact, he said taggers would probably return to the apartment complex within days if not sooner.

Still, he's hopeful with the new program and a detective soon assigned to graffiti full time will make a difference.

As Riggs said, "no one should have to live across from this."