Local News

Chapel Hill Police Want Help Catching Vandals

Posted April 9, 2007 11:47 p.m. EDT

— Chapel Hill police are asking for the community's help to find the person or persons responsible for a rash of vandalism.

Investigators believe a gang may be behind the graffiti. They say suspected gang members are leaving their mark with spray paint. Police are offering up to a $1,200 cash reward for information leading to an arrest.

Ken Taylor is in the business of relaxation, selling thermal massage beds. But recently, something has him on edge.

"It kicks up emotion in a heartbeat," said Taylor, owner of a retail shop in the Galleria Shopping Center.

He's talking about gang graffiti that showed up near the dumpster outside the shopping center in Chapel Hill. Police say the group Latin Boys United left their mark on at least 20 different places from road signs to businesses in the past month.

"Right now it's costing us the town and the private property owners quite a bit of money to try and remove this graffiti," said Lt. Leo Vereen, with the Chapel Hill Police Department.

Besides the cost of cleaning up the vandalism, investigators are concerned the problem may get more serious if the group becomes more organized.

"We're trying to stay on top of what we're facing right now," Vereen said.

Some Chapel Hill residents worry it might be too late.

"The time to do it is before the gangs get established. Once they get established I'm sure there is a dynamic that just feeds on itself," said Mark Hainline.

Taylor just hopes the situation gets cleaned up soon.

"Somebody is marking their turf. What I think about is, it can escalate," he said.

The last three places hit this past weekend were: The Galleria Shopping Center at 400 S. Elliott Road, Genisis Hair Salon at 406 West Rosemary St. and two street signs at the 700 block of Kings Mill Road.

Anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers at (919) 942-7515.