Homeowners and businesses throughout the Preston Hollow area are probably familiar with the “rewd” guy – the tagger who spray-painted this graffiti insignia on area businesses and “High Five” structures. Police caught up with him during a recent warrant round up and arrested him in his apartment near White Rock Lake. He’s out on bail, but detectives aren’t finished with him yet.

Q. What’s happening with the “rewd” guy now?

He’s cooperating with the police, he knows he has cases pending, and he knows that they are serious cases. One is for the High Five, and that’s probably going to be a felony because of the dollar damage – in excess of $20,000.

Q. How many tags has he made?

A lot. I would say over 100. He did about 50 or 60 around the High Five alone.

Q. Did he seem to be targeting businesses in certain areas?

He was quite prolific through the Garland area, besides being downtown a lot and tagging in the Deep Ellum area. It’s basically a problem all over. We get reports of taggers all over Dallas. But tagging is not necessarily gang-related, and Mr. Rewd is not a gang member.

Q. What could he be charged with? Is the punishment a simple fine, or is it jail time?

His misdemeanor could be a fine up to $2,000 and up to 180 days in jail. A felony would be two to 10 years in jail with a possible $10,000 fine.

Q. What drives taggers like the “rewd” guy?

Taggers in general have addiction problems and obsessive disorders where they just can’t help but [act like] “when I’ve got a pen in my hand, I’m writing.” It’s coupled with the fact that they want recognition – they probably have low self-esteem – and they get a thrill out of running from police. It’s the cat and mouse game for them.

Q. Is that why graffiti is so prolific?

It is hard to make arrests for tagging or graffiti. You generally have to have an eyewitness to the offense (and that’s very seldom), or a confession (which doesn’t often happen with these guys), or some strong circumstantial evidence, and even those are very hard to prosecute. The department is taking graffiti and tagging very seriously, and we’re doing some extra training for officers on what they can and can’t do when they catch these guys. We’re also hoping to add a link to our website that shows taggers’ photos and their tags so people can say, “I’ve seen that on my fence or in the restroom at my business or on my dumpster or back wall.”

Q. What needs to happen for tagging to subside?

The police can’t be everywhere, and we are desperately seeking the help of the public for this graffiti program. The big thing is reporting it. If you see someone writing on a fence – even if it’s not your fence – or a telephone pole, dial 911. That way we can get out there. For almost every high-profile tagger, it’s not the big thing that gets them caught – it’s the little thing where someone calls in, and that ties them to the big thing.

Detective Brad Dirks, gang unit, contributed to this column.

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