Graffiti along VC Road likely gang-related
March 19, 2014The recent streak of graffiti in Valley Center and the surrounding area has prompted sheriff's deputies to launch an investigation into gang-related vandalism. Since the beginning of March, graffiti has cropped up in the South Village of Valley Center, in Pauma Valley, and even as far away as Pala.
"The tagging itself is gang-related tagging," said Sgt. Patrick Shannon at the Valley Center substation of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department. "It looks like our local Valley Center gang is probably kind of warring a little bit with the Escondido gangs."
The most public of these taggings have occurred near the intersection of Valley Center and Mirar de Valle roads, with foul words and "Esco" written on a fence and a wall on either side of the street.
"They're related. It's probably one or two people doing the same tagging," said Shannon. Additional graffiti has also appeared on a stop sign at the intersection of Cole Grade Road and State Route 76, as well as further west on Route 76, near the Pala Indian Reservation.
Shannon believes "VLS," a Valley Center gang with eight documented members, is involved in the tagging. However, with all but two of the documented members in custody, it may be people looking to prove themselves to the gang, rather than the gang itself, that is doing the tagging.
Jose Martinez, the VC substation's gang deputy, will be taking photographs of the graffiti and uploading it to Graffiti Tracker, an online program that detects patterns in graffiti and compares it to local gang activity.
However, despite the recent uptick in tagging, Shannon has not seen a related increase in gang-related violence.
"I don't foresee it as a big problem as far as gangs are concerned, but it's the tagging in general that's really unsightly, that affects the quality of life," said Shannon. "We are on it. We are investigating it."
Shannon encourages anyone who sees graffiti to report it immediately. In the last year, the VC substation has not received a single report of tagging, suggesting that people simply aren't reporting it when they see it. Sheriff's deputies typically only respond to tagging incidents if someone reports it.
To report graffiti, call the substation at 760-751-4400. Dial 911 is you see a tagging in progress.