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Man Accused of Taunting Police in Graffiti Is Held

Crime: The suspect is charged with 30 counts of late-night vandalism in Sylmar over seven months. The damage has been put at $42,000.

June 22, 2002|MANUEL GAMIZ JR. | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A cat-and-mouse game in which a graffiti vandal taunted police has ended with the arrest of a 21-year-old Sylmar man, Los Angeles police announced at a news conference on Friday.

For about seven months, Sylmar residents have complained about a late-night vandal who spray-painted his name, explicit messages and caricatures on buildings, vehicles and freeway signs in the area. Dubbing himself "This One," he caused $42,000 in damage, Los Angeles Police Department officials said.

Gary Long, a UPS worker arrested on June 12, defaced walls and buildings "simply for the adrenaline rush," said Officer Kelly Mahon of the Foothill Division's Tagger Task Force.

"Graffiti in our communities is an eyesore and encourages acts of lawlessness, so it must be stopped," said LAPD Cmdr. Michel Moore, who praised Foothill officers for their work in Long's arrest. "The excessiveness of this graffiti spree was deplorable."

In a search of Long's home earlier this month, police said they found dozens of spray-paint cans, marijuana paraphernalia and "piece books," which are photo albums filled with pictures of a tagger's best artwork.

"He wanted us to be a part of his game," Mahon said. "Well, we played his game and he lost."

According to police, some of Long's messages read, "Where you at, vandal squad" and "I know who you are and I know where you live, cease or be deceased."

Long also allegedly left a message across the street from a baseball field that encouraged children to take drugs, have wild sex and kill their parents.

To intimidate someone he suspected of talking to police, Long allegedly left a graffiti message on the tailgate of the person's pickup truck calling the person a traitor.

Long, who is being held on $75,000 bail at the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic, is due in San Fernando Superior Court on Wednesday for a preliminary hearing. He pleaded not guilty last week to 28 felony and two misdemeanor counts of vandalism, said Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office. He could face eight years in prison if convicted.

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