SOUTH SALT LAKE — A website offering graffiti-utility backpacks has many people upset. They say the product sends the wrong message.
James Adamson has lived and rented property in a South Salt Lake neighborhood for nearly 50 years. He's been dealing with graffiti on his duplex for a while now and he's sick of it.
"The graffiti's really gotten worse in the last year," he said, "and then actually in the last few months, it's really gotten bad."
He says you see graffiti everywhere — on garages, walls, fences. He's especially upset now that he's learned there's an online site selling what's called "graffiti-utility backpacks."
"Well, this is just really cool," he said sarcastically. "A graffiti pack. Just wonderful for all of our nice friends to carry around and then in a moment or two just shoot everybody's walls and property up."
South Salt Lake police spokesman Garry Keller says graffiti is more of a plague than a problem.
"Some people refer to it as street art," he said. "It's not street art. It's graffiti. You're damaging somebody else's property. It takes up their resources, their time, their money to remove it. And it's all for nothing."
South Salt Lake police say the backpacks encourage criminal behavior, but so far they haven't seen it in Utah.
"I actually went to this website and looked at a few of the pictures and videos on there," Keller said. "The people that are on the videos are actually wearing masks and have sunglasses on. They refer to themselves as criminals."
In 1996 lawmakers approved stricter penalties for graffiti.
"If people are out there doing this, we're going to actively pursue you and put you in jail and charge you a hefty fine," Keller said. Offenders face fines ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 and possible prison time.
Utah taxpayers are also paying for the graffiti. Every time Adamson's walls are "tagged" with graffiti, he calls the police and the city cleans it up. But as soon as the walls are painted, the cycle begins again.
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