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Fresno Anti-Graffiti Program Working. How Many Arrests?
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By David Taub, Senior Reporter
Published 3 weeks ago on
May 9, 2024
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An example of the alleged graffiti by Luis Toro, considered one of the most prolific taggers arrested. (City of Fresno)

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Fresno is finding success defending itself from notorious graffiti vandals.

Since starting the crackdown in February, the city arrested 14 of the most prolific vandals. Mayor Jerry Dyer said those 14 — plus five more that have evaded capture — caused $120,000 in property damage.

The task force — a combination of Fresno police, the City Attorney’s office, and the Fresno County District Attorney’s office — filed a total of 41 criminal cases, 38 of which are felonies.

“It is not a violent offense, but it’s costing us. It’s costing our community. It’s costing our taxpayer base. (It) is costing us businesses coming to this community, and it’s costing people to have fear, because when you walk down the street, your average person doesn’t know if it’s a gang tagging or something else. They just see the graffiti and they don’t feel safe,” Police Chief Paco Balderrama said.

Balderrama said the 19 taggers arrested or identified caused up to 95% of the prolific tagging.

“Taggings went down dramatically” since the start of the task force, he said.

The city plans to hold parents responsible for minors arrested for tagging as another prong of the task force, Dyer said. But that has not started yet, the mayor said.

Taunting Tagger Arrested

Luis Toro

One of the most notorious taggers arrested, Luis Toro, taunted the city with an “F*** Your Task Force” piece of “art.”

“The very task force who (Toro taunted), later arrested Toro on felony charges,” Dyer said.

Dyer said Toro caused $25,000 in damage. He faces five vandalism counts, four felonies, and a misdemeanor. He pleaded not guilty and returns to court June 17.

Taggers Will Pay

The city also stepped up its graffiti clean-up team. Balderrama said. At $370 per incident, the city is up to nearly $3 million spent so far.

The task force plans to recoup its costs through the taggers.

District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp said if and when taggers are found guilty, the court will order restitution.

“Hopefully some of these people will pay their fines and we will be able to reimburse the city for those expenses,” Smittcamp said.

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David Taub,
Senior Reporter
Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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