According to Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, "graffiti is not a harmless form of creative expression. It's a destructive crime that victimizes entire communities by creating blight and encouraging additional criminal activity."
One of the more prolific Valley vandals contributing to the "blight" is "Shaggy," a Phoenix "tagger" who currently faces felony charges for defacing property throughout Phoenix over the past three years.
Montgomery's office announced today that "Shaggy," a.k.a. Daneil Alexander Lopez, has been charged with one count of aggravated criminal damage, a class-six felony, and one count of criminal damage, a class-five felony, for damaging buildings all over Phoenix.
If you ask "Shaggy," who told cops he never planned to quit tagging until he got caught, though, he's a bit of a folk hero.
"If you become a King you will get caught eventually and that's the risk you have to take," he told investigators following his arrest.
Lopez was busted back in May when police saw him near an on-ramp to SR-51 at McDowell Road that is a frequent hangout for Valley taggers. He had white paint on his hands that matched a fresh "tag" found on a nearby overpass.
Following his arrest, Lopez admitted to police that he's been "tagging" Valley buildings since 2006 under the monikers of "Shaggy," "Shag," and "Shagone."
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Lopez's current indictment lists more than 30 victims who suffered damages in excess of $5,500.
Some of Lopez's victims include Family Dollar Stores, Sears, an Arizona Department of Transportation building, New Hope in Christ Church, and multiple private citizens.
According to the County Attorney's Office, referrals of juvenile graffiti cases to the MCAO have spiked 46 percent in the last five years, while referrals of cases involving possession of graffiti tools have more than tripled.
The MCAO files charges in roughly 90-percent of the graffiti cases referred to it. Sentences generally range from probation to two years in prison.