The city cleaned up less graffiti in the last six months than in the same period a year before, but it might be too soon to declare that graffiti is declining in Hesperia.


"Part of it is we had a truck down for part of the year," city spokeswoman Kelly Malloy said Friday.


Still, the city's 4,248 clean-ups between July 2009 and January 2010 marks an apparent continuation of a trend: The city's graffiti abatement team cleaned up 4,641 cases of graffiti between July 2008 and January 2009 and 5,058 cases between July 2007 and January 2008.


"The more staff members we have working on it," in working trucks, "the more graffiti they'll be able to respond to," Malloy said. "It's still so early in the establishment of the program."


Hesperia's graffiti abatement program brings together the city's public works and code enforcement departments, along with the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, the Hesperia Unified School District police department and the Hesperia Recreation and Park District. The multi-agency task force shares information on taggers, locations and time of incidents and other information. The city also has a dedicated phone line for reporting graffiti.


"We want people to report any graffiti in the public right of way, in addition to any graffiti that's visible from the street," Malloy said. "We work with property owners on graffiti removal, or refer someone to them."


While graffiti incidents appear to be going down, there's no magic bullet for property owners to keep from becoming a victim themselves.


"There's not one group of people who are graffiting," Malloy said. "There's a wide range of people, there's all ages. Since their intent of what they're doing is different, there's not any way of combating it with the exception of being aware of what's going in their neighborhood and being willing to call the police.


"That one phone call could save hundreds of properties from being graffitied within the city. They could make the difference."


The city of Hesperia's dedicated graffiti hotline 947-1600. Residents are asked to leave a message and the city will get back in touch to coordinate a clean-up.


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 760-956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star