PHOENIX, AZ (May 16, 2011) – William Barajas (DOB 3/10/1991) has been arrested by Phoenix Police and charged with one class 4 felony count of aggravated criminal damage and one class 5 aggregated count of criminal damage for numerous graffiti crimes. Barajas, who frequently uses the tag “MAWD,” confessed to over 300 acts of graffiti defacing 5,250 square feet of property and costing nearly 100 victims more than $5,500.00 in damage between October 2009 and January 2011. He faces a maximum sentence of 6¼ years in prison if convicted on both counts.
“Graffiti is a crime. It damages property and destroys the pride of the community. Each year, Graffiti Busters receives thousands of calls to remove this blight throughout the city. The Phoenix Police Department and the City of Phoenix are committed to combating this problem and arresting those who commit these crimes,” said Joseph G. Yahner, Acting Phoenix Police Chief.
Referrals of juvenile graffiti cases to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office have spiked 46% in the last five years, while referrals of cases involving possession of graffiti tools have more than tripled. The County Attorney typically files formal charges on roughly 90% of criminal damage case submittals (A.R.S. §13-1604), with resulting sentences ranging from probation to two years in prison or longer.
“Graffiti crimes victimize entire neighborhoods by defacing property and leaving a costly eyesore that degrades housing values and creates an environment that invites additional crime,” remarked Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “By aggressively prosecuting these crimes we intend to send a message to these so-called artists that they will pay a stiff price for their handiwork,” he added.
William Barajas was arrested earlier this month after he was observed doing graffiti on a pole in the area of 2700 W. Glenrosa Avenue in Phoenix. At the time, he was also wanted by Glendale Police for open burglary charges. After an interview with Glendale and Phoenix Police Detectives, Barajas was charged with 2 counts of conspiracy to commit 2nd degree burglary in Glendale in addition to the criminal damage charges. He was also charged with conspiracy to commit 2nd degree burglary in Phoenix.
Barajas is believed to be the most prolific graffiti tagger since Joel Delgado, aka “JUGS,” who was sentenced to prison last year.