Among the many unsung activities of our local crime watch coalition are its graffiti removal efforts. Coalition President Charlotte Raup informed the Independent Gazette that she and fellow activists “have been doing graffiti removal for years,” explaining that they redact the defacing visuals as soon as they’re detected. “Many times we have run to Wal-Mart in the middle of the night on our [security] patrols and spray painted it over be- fore the creeps that did it woke up the next morning!” Raup exclaimed.
In order to safely conduct their cleansing work, crime watch mem- bers do not act alone, but operate in small groups of two or three—and they always notify local police of their activities, lest the actions be miscon- strued by observers. Raup asserted, “There is very little, if any gang graf- fiti in Wilkes-Barre, they are mostly tags, not gang signs. Tags are done by teens trying to make a name for themselves . . . . We have performed stakeouts and caught a few of them. Tags are artistic bubbly-looking fig- ures, while gang graffiti is plain and readable, in contrast.” She also stated that coalition members will usually not touch private property without permission from the property owner and that a city ordinance exists re- quiring an owner to remove graffiti within 15 days of its placement, even though most cities require action within only three days.
The Wilkes-Barre Crime Watch Coalition oversees an active facebook group numbering close to 2,900. The coalition also maintains a website at www.wbCrimeWatch.org.
Photos of local graffiti provided by Raup: