GRAFFITI REPORT IT and REMOVE IT!

REPORT IT
 
The process that Prince William County has adopted for dealing with graffiti is for anyone who spots it, to report it at the online Graffiti Reporting Form.  If you do not have access to a computer, phone the information to Neighborhood Services at 703-792-7018. Staff will complete the online form for you. If you own the property that was vandalized, call the Police non-emergency number at 703-792-6500 and after an officer has filled out the report, remove the graffiti.
 
When you hit the "submit" button on the Graffiti Reporting Form, an email is simultaneously sent to PWC Neighborhood Services and to the Intelligence Analyst with the PWC Police Department. Inspectors with Neighborhood Services will document the graffiti and notify the owner/occupant that it is their responsibility to remove or cover the graffiti. Notification is in the form of a violation notice posted prominently on the property and mailed to the owner and the occupant. Police investigation may include photographing the graffiti and gathering evidence such as empty spray paint cans. 
 
If you witness someone in the act of vandalizing a property with graffiti, do not approach the criminals but instead call 9-1-1.  As soon as you see graffiti, report it!  The Police Department makes an official determination of whether or not the graffiti is gang-related, but over eighty percent of graffiti is not gang related.
 
REMOVE IT
 
The property owner must remove the graffiti. Studies indicate that quick removal is the best deterrent to graffiti. Be persistent, too. Research has shown that it may take an average of three times before vandals get discouraged with one spot. Removal is easier if you know the correct treatments for different surfaces. The pamphlet, Responding to Graffiti may help you pick the best solution. Keep America Beautiful and its partners also provide additional information at graffitihurts.org.
 
The Property Owner's Responsibility
 
If the property owner does not remove or cover the graffiti within seven days of the date of legal notification by Neighborhood Services, volunteers with PWC or County employees are allowed to enter the private property to remove or cover the graffiti. This will be done using the most cost-effective means available.  While the utmost care will be taken in removing graffiti, do not expect paint colors to match and know that power washing may alter surfaces. Because the County cannot be held liable for any damage done to surfaces, it is best if the property owner removes the graffiti.
 
How can you prevent a surface from being an "easel" for graffiti vandals?
 
When adding features to your property like fences, avoid installing smooth surfaces which show graffiti better than those that are highly textured, such as those covered in lattice or stone. Areas that are well-lit may discourage graffiti.  Paint and coatings are available that make it easier to remove graffiti. The most expensive of these coatings actually causes spray paint to run off the surface! Plants can help prevent graffiti in two ways. 1) Plants with thorns or stickers or dense plants like Eastern Red Cedar make it difficult to get to a blank wall to vandalize it. 2) Vines or dense plantings can cover the blank wall making the graffiti hard to see. See the pamphlet Graffiti Prevention Strategies for more details. 
 
Neighborhood groups are welcome to download and print copies for distribution or use parts or all of the publications in neighborhood newsletters. Questions? Please contact Neighborhood Services at 703-792-7018 or email nsd@pwcgov.org.