SURREY - The Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce is offering a $1,000 reward, through Crime Stoppers, in hopes of dealing with a rash of graffiti in the Clayton Heights and Hillcrest areas.
The reward will be given to a person who provides a tip that leads to a criminal charge.
Bill Reid, executive director of the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce, said it's a problem that's gone on for nearly two months.
"We are having a war on graffiti," Reid said. "It's gradually got to the point where it's unbearable to see."
The chamber met with a lot of the local businesses and organizations to get some resources to clean it up, Reid said, who added that about $5,000 has already been spent on graffiti removal in the last two months.
"It has to stop. We need some help to get it to stop," he said. "That means the community has got to be aware of it."
Reid said they clean up the graffiti, and once it's nearly all done, the graffiti comes back again.
"It's been almost overnight on a couple of occasions," Reid said.
The key is to get the graffiti cleaned off quickly, to deter the vandals, Reid said.
"They consider themselves artists and if their artistry gets taken off as soon as they put it on, they eventually take it off and go somewhere else. And that's what we want them to do."
And the graffiti is showing up on anything that's got a flat surface, Reid said.
"There's containers, the Shopper's Drug Mart, Coast Capital's wall, Dublin's Pub, PriceSmart, and all the power boxes and mail boxes."
Reid urges local residents to keep their eyes open.
"Some of this graffiti takes at least an hour to put on. So it's not someone just jumping out of a car and quickly graffiti-ing a wall, then leaving," he said.
Jen Temple, manager of Hillcrest Village Shopping Centre, said the graffiti has been a real problem.
A lot of the graffiti includes swear words, Temple said, which just isn't appropriate for a family shopping centre.
In 2010, the mall spent $2,000 on graffiti clean up, and last year, they spent $3,000.
Temple said those numbers need to stop climbing.
Like Reid, she said the trick is to get the graffiti off as quickly as possible, hoping to deter vandals.
She said a couple of youth have been caught, and Temple's recommendation to the police is to put them through the Restorative Justice Program.
Surrey's Restorative Justice program, part of the Crime Reduction Strategy, was created in 2008 and is an alternative way of dealing with crime. The program supports youth by encouraging them to understand the effects of the harm they have done, and provides them with opportunities to make amends.
"That way they realize how much work goes into removing it," Temple said, adding that giving back to the community has a real affect on people.
Surrey RCMP Sgt. Drew Grainger said offering the $1,000 reward for tips leading to a charge can help motivate people to come forward.
"Most of the residents of the area would already have a stake in the area, but in circumstances such as this, a reward motivates people to come forward," Grainger said.
If you see anything suspicious, or witness someone in action, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
And if you see graffiti that needs to be removed, call the chamber at 604-574-9802.
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