Security company a video watchdog
A West Side security company is using the Internet to track down graffiti taggers and burglars.
Mike Jagger, owner of Provident Security, said it only took 36 hours to track down a young teen caught on video last week. Jagger said the boy was filmed walking up to the back of the Provident Security building last Thursday night and spraying his tag on a diesel generator. A graffiti tag is the personalized signature or symbol of the writer.
“Because of the generator we have a number of cameras out back, and he walked right up to one,” said Jagger. “We had it on tape and published it on our blog, which is powered by [Internet video site] YouTube.”
Anyone with information on these suspected burglars, caught on tape, is asked to call 604-664-1087 or 604-717-3434.
Jagger said the video was picked up by other kids who forwarded it to friends and posted it on social networking sites like Facebook. Almost immediately Provident received phone calls and emails from people identifying the boy as a Kerrisdale resident. Just 36 hours after the video was posted, Jagger received a phone call from the boy’s father confirming his identity. Jagger said the boy’s parents were anxious to have him take responsibility for the vandalism. At the request of the parents Jagger removed the video from Provident’s blog and YouTube.
“His parents were on it right away,” said Jagger. “And I think the kid is young enough that he really didn’t realize what a big deal this was.”
Jagger said the graffiti incident was a big deal because Provident had documented examples of the kid’s personal tag. When Provident staff find or are notified of graffiti in and around Kerrisdale, they take a picture and note the time and date. That information is filed in a database of local taggers.
“This kid had been doing the same thing for awhile, and we had documented a dozen other tags of his close by,” said Jagger. “In Kerrisdale it’s not just the tag you did 30 seconds ago you’ll be accountable for, but all of the tagging you’ve done.”
Jagger said because the criminal consequences for young graffiti vandals tend to be minimal, the Kerrisdale community tries to tackle the problem with civility. Once a tagger is identified, the youth and his or her parents meet with a team including Jagger, a member of the Kerrisdale Business Association and Const. Ray Gardner of the Kerrisdale, Oakridge, Marpole Community Policing Office.
Gardner said pursuing a criminal mischief charge isn’t always the best way to handle young taggers and that the meetings are an opportunity to explain to the parents the seriousness of graffiti vandalism. He noted the city’s West Side has become a target for graffiti, which gives the perception of increased criminal activity and troubles seniors and new immigrants who don’t understand much of the tagging is done by their neighbour’s children.
“We look at things like, has this person been through the system before,” he said. “But just because it doesn’t go criminal doesn’t mean a civil case won’t be pursued and the burden of proof for a civil case is less than for a criminal charge.”
Gardner agreed the use of video surveillance can be a valuable tool in solving crimes. The VPD, and Jagger, are now trying to identify three burglars caught on a Provident surveillance tape breaking into a Southlands home May 25. Jagger said three homes were broken into in the neighbourhood that same day and the men caught on tape are suspects in each crime. The tape shows one of the men knocking on the door of the home. When no one answers, he returns to a vehicle where his friends are waiting. Wearing gloves, the three men approach the home, and one of the men kicks in the front door.
The video is available at www.providentblog.ca.Published June 11, 2008 · The Vancouver Courier · Written by Sandra Thomas