Understanding Graffiti and Tagging

About tagging

There are several kinds of graffiti and the term refers to several forms of vandalism, from large spray paint murals (about 5% of graffiti nationally) to "tagging", or quick scrawls of a name using a spray can, marker or etching implement (about 80% of graffiti nationally). 

Tagging is the quickest, easiest, most pervasive and most expensive form of graffiti vandalism, and is like logo placement or brand advertising. The primary goal of tagging is to advertise the vandal's "tag" (or street name) and "crew" (tagging group or gang set) and get recognition from others for prominent placement of tags throughout the city. A tag in a location is a challenge or an invitation for another tagger to tag the same spot, either challenging the original tagger's ownership of the spot or reinforcing that ownership. In some cases, tagging is gang-related and marks a gang's territory, but often is solely for self-promotion. Taggers who cover a lot of territory or place tags in risky, high visibility locations get more recognition for their efforts. 

What this means to you 

  • Denver Police track specific tags and crews, so reporting graffiti to the police is an important first step to long-term graffiti prevention. 
  • Clean-up is key. By removing the tags as quickly as possible, you not only make your location less desirable for new taggers, but because the tag isn't there long enough to be seen, the original tagger will be less likely to hit the same spot again.
  • Don't give them the publicity they desire. Don't post photos or videos of graffiti, and don't allow the media to display any graffiti on your property. The publication of a tag gives the tagger a huge reward for his vandalism.