Tagger hits Seattle condo building — ‘I respect street art … I don’t think this is street art’

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A skinny, scruffy-looking man armed with a can of spray paint looked around carefully and then started tagging the wall of a Capitol Hill condominium building early Monday morning.

Justin Christie was in bed when the motion sensor on his surveillance camera set off an alert on his phone.

“As soon as I saw it, I jumped to the door and wanted to scare him away at least, but by the time the alert came through, he had already finished; he was pretty quick,” said Christie.

What the suspect left behind will cost the Home Owners Association between $300 and $500 to remove.

“I respect street art. I don’t think this is street art,” said Christie.

Seattle police are hoping someone recognizes the tagger and turns him in.

“There’s two primary reasons people do illegal graffiti. It’s thrill-seeking behavior and attention-seeking behavior,” said police detective Chris Young.

He is Seattle’s graffiti detective charged with battling the tagging subculture responsible for millions of dollars in damage every year.

Just this week, a tagger sprayed graffiti all over a new retaining wall on Westlake Avenue North.

"The fact is only about 1 percent of the grafitti in Seattle is gang-related but the average citizen doesn't know that. They think, they see any graffiti, they think it's gang-related and they're scared that they are going to get mugged or something," Young said.

Perception can become reality, said Myrle Carner, of Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound, who hopes someone will call the anonymous hotline at 1-800-222-8477 and identify the vandals.

"They think if graffiti people can get away with it, well, let's do a little drug activity, or let's break into some cars. It's just maddening."

Christie said he loves Capitol Hill. He's lived there for seven years and says it comes with the territory. Still, he refuses to just sit back and do nothing. He has a good idea for punishment if the tagger is caught.

"In the traditional sense of justice, it would be kind of nice to see him clean it up."

If you recognize him and can tell Seattle detectives his name, call an anonymous tip into:

You must call the Crime Stoppers hotline with your tip to be eligible to receive a cash reward for information leading to a fugitive’s arrest.

Click here for information on how to text a tip to Crime Stoppers.

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