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San Jose Police Arrest Members Of Tagging Crew

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(Clockwise from left) John Arquero, Jordan Burgerson, Sesar Diaz and Manuel Villagran are suspected of vandalism that caused more than $50,000 in damage. Police say they are members of a tagging crew known as “HYSU” or “Have You Seen Us?” (San Jose Police Department)

(Clockwise from left) John Arquero, Jordan Burgerson, Sesar Diaz and Manuel Villagran are suspected of vandalism that caused more than $50,000 in damage. Police say they are members of a tagging crew known as “HYSU” or “Have You Seen Us?” (San Jose Police Department)

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SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — San Jose police Thursday announced the arrest of four men earlier this week suspected of graffiti vandalism that caused more than $50,000 in damage following a four-month investigation.

The suspects were identified as Cesar Diaz, 32; John Arquero, 21; Jordan Burgerson, 18; and Manuel Villagran, 18.

Officers executed five search warrants and arrested the four suspects, all San Jose residents, on Tuesday morning on felony vandalism charges.

They will additionally be charged with criminal street gang enhancements, police said.

Police on Thursday identified the men as members of a tagging crew known as “HYSU,” an acronym for “Have You Seen Us?”, that is responsible for at least 60 graffiti tags around the Bay Area and half of the tagging in San Jose.

“We put a pretty good dent in this group,” police Sgt. Kenneth Davis told reporters at a news conference Thursday afternoon.

KCBS’ Mike Colgan Reports:

He characterized a “tagger” as a graffiti vandal who goes on a “bombing run,” a term for loading a crate with backpacks containing items such as spray cans, gloves, graffiti design books, sharpies, and slap tags, and then going out in a bicycle or car to tag various parts of the city, such as the walls of freeways and bridges, light poles, and electrical boxes.

Davis said most graffiti vandals who are caught by police admit to the crime “because they want the fame.”

The arrests stemmed from an investigation that began in August and during which detectives identified roughly 80 taggers and arrested 50 people who had caused more than $100,000 in vandalism damage, said Davis.

Assistant Police Chief Rikki Goede said graffiti is “a huge financial drain” that affects the quality of life for all.

“We all have been affected by it,” she said. “Even with diminished resources we still can tackle these issues with the use of technology and collaborative efforts.”

The arrests are part of an ongoing effort by police to reduce graffiti vandalism, Davis said.

“We do have some other folks that we’re looking at,” he said.

Agencies that assisted San Jose police detectives include the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office, the city’s Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services Department, CalTrans, Santa Clara County Valley Transportation Authority, and officers from Mountain View, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, San Leandro, and Hayward.

Anyone who sees graffiti or vandalism is asked to report the crime by calling 911 if the crime is in progress, or the city’s Park, Recreation and Neighborhood Services at (877) 249-0543. Photographs and information can also be submitted online at www.sjpd.org.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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