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Leaving A Mark

Cops say two groups are on a graffiti binge

Cops say two groups are on a graffiti binge

April 14, 2007|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN-More graffiti has been splashed across Hagerstown buildings in the past two weeks than local police have seen in the past two years, Detective Andrew Lewis of the Hagerstown Police Department said Friday.

Police are investigating graffiti left by two groups - the Bloods gang and a group known as UGC.

Hagerstown police have dealt with Bloods before, although the gang has not left much graffiti in the city, Lewis said.

UGC is a new group police don't know much about, but appears to have local origins, said Ryan Shifflet, an investigator with the Washington County Sheriff's Department.

The sheriff's department has received reports of graffiti going up in the Virginia Avenue area near Valley Mall, Shifflet said.

A lot of the "unidentified graffiti" behind Kohl's and Target is related to the UGC group, he said.

Williamsport High School and Martinsburg High School in Martinsburg, W.Va., also have been painted with graffiti related to UGC, he said.

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Graffiti at Williamsport High School was painted on the concession stands and press box last week, said James Aleshire, an assistant principal.

Names of other schools also were written, Aleshire said. That graffiti has been cleaned off, and was the only graffiti incident the school has had this year, he said.

Graffiti often is marked with names or area codes, Shifflet said. The area codes 301 and 304 have been left with the UGC graffiti, he said.

Police like to see graffiti removed as soon as possible because it sends a message that the public will not tolerate graffiti, Shifflet said.

The UGC graffiti started appearing about two weeks ago, and police are continuing to investigate the markings, he said.

Hagerstown police received "a ton" of reports about new graffiti paintings Thursday night, Lewis said.

"The Bloods are tagging everything," he said. "You can't drive two blocks without seeing it."

Most of the graffiti appeared within the past four or five days, Lewis said.

Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith described the graffiti activity as "hot and heavy in and outside the city."

The words "BLOOD" and "BLOODZ" are painted in black on buildings along Jonathan Street, North Prospect Street and Summit Avenue.

In the Wheaton Park area, the number 187 appears in the graffiti. According to Lewis, 187 is the California police code for homicide. That number also was written behind the parole and probation office, Lewis said.

"We rarely ever saw graffiti from the Bloods," Lewis said. "Now, we're getting reports several times a day."

Baltimore hasn't seen much Bloods graffiti recently, Lewis said.

While the Bloods graffiti is simple, even "sloppy," the UGC graffiti involves a lot of drawing, he said.

Police haven't identified anyone involved with the graffiti. Anyone with information may call the Hagerstown Police Department at 301-790-3700 or the Washington County Sheriff's Department at 301-791-3020.

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