Tagging crews and vandals cost the city of Hesperia nearly $200,000 each year in clean up costs, according to city officials.


The introduction of an ordinance that makes taggers or their parents financially liable for the vandalism caused to city property has led to a slight decrease in the crime. But Kelly Malloy, spokeswoman for the city, said officials are looking into ways to amend the ordinance to allow code enforcement officials to go after the vandals more aggressively.


"It's still in the early stages, but it's a project the city is definitely looking into," Malloy said.


Recently San Bernardino County Sheriff's Hesperia station deputies were able to put two teen taggers behind bars for vandalism totaling about $4,000 and a warrant search yielded drugs and paraphernalia at one of the taggers' homes, Roxanne Walker, spokeswoman for the station, said.


The 15- and 17-year-olds were caught when Deputy Greg Swooda conducted a pedestrian check on the juveniles and found blue paint on the two consistent with paint used for recent graffiti, authorities said.


The Hesperia Gang Team learned the two were responsible to tagging the letters "LOC" throughout the city.


As part of their investigation, officials served a search warrant at one of the juveniles' homes and found marijuana, scales and packaging material, Walker stated.


Both Walker and Malloy agree community members hold the key in keeping this type of crime down.


"We need the community to call us so we can go out there and take the graffiti down as soon as possible," Malloy said, adding that one piece of tagging can attract more. "You may get some small tagging in an area and someone will come along and put up a larger piece of graffiti to outdo the first one."


Authorities are still searching for taggers responsible for vandalizing property with the letters "PODK," "AOSK" and "DVSK."


Anyone with information is asked to contact the Hesperia station at (760) 947-1500 or call WeTip at (800) 78-CRIME.


Anyone wishing to report graffiti can call the city's hot line at (760) 947-1600. They can leave a detailed message on where the tagging is located and, according to Malloy, crews work to have new tagging removed within 24 hours of receiving a report.


Beatriz E. Valenzuela may be reached at 951-6276 or at BValenzuela@VVDailyPress.com.