As part of a program to reduce graffiti here, the city will pay $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of local graffiti vandals.
City officials hope the reward will increase the number of people arrested for defacing property in Mission Viejo.
"We do not interpret costly graffiti damage as 'artistic expression' or 'fun,' " said City Manager Fred Sorsabal. "When individuals deface other people's property, we call it vandalism, and we intend to identify and arrest the individuals that are culpable."
The city's cleanup costs for graffiti rose from $2,100 in fiscal year 1990-91 to $7,780 last year. City officials expect to pay more than $10,000 to clean defaced walls this year.
A push to catch vandals in the act has resulted in 15 arrests since January. City officials say the number of vandalism calls have skyrocketed.
Recent figures show calls more than doubling, from 44 last November to 102 in December, 1992.
The city contracts for police services with the Orange County Sheriff's Department, which has organized an anti-graffiti task force in South County to target areas hard hit with graffiti.
In addition to making the 15 arrests--all but one were juveniles charged with misdemeanor malicious mischief--the Sheriff's Department is working with the county district attorney's office to impose stiff penalties for those convicted of graffiti vandalism.
Penalties could include restitution for damage, three years' probation, 200 hours of community service or a one-year suspension of driving privileges.