Wiping Out Graffiti In Houston

Police Officer Arresting A Graffiti Vandal

Houston treats graffiti vandalism as a crime, not a prank. If you are caught defacing property, expect to face legal consequences. There are also penalties for anyone who contributes to the crime, whether that person is the parent of an offender or a business owner.

--> View the City of Houston Visual Blight Ordinance (opens in a new window)

Texas Penal Code §28.0 makes it a crime to intentionally or knowingly make markings with aerosol paint, markers or etching and engraving devices on tangible property without consent of the owner.  Markings can include inscriptions, slogans, drawings or paintings.  Penalties are assessed based on the amount of loss suffered by the property owner and may range from fines of up to $2,000 and/or confinement for up to 180 days, to fines of $10,000 and/or confinement for 5 to 99 years.

Over the past two decades, graffiti has become a growing problem for many U.S. cities.  When discussing the consequences of graffiti vandalism, social scientists and economic advisors often refer to “the broken window” theory.  That theory draws a connection between the occurrence of graffiti and the residents’ perception of a diminished quality of services.  Such perceptions have numerous negative consequences on communities.

The unconscious connection between graffiti and more serious crime causes property values, business growth and tourism to decline.  Graffiti also attracts other forms of crime and street delinquency to the area, slowly replacing residents’ sense of neighborhood ownership and safety with fear, anxiety and frustration.

In recent years, graffiti has spread from urban areas to rural and suburban communities.  Cities across the nation spend thousands of dollars each year to clean up graffiti.  The social and economic consequences of graffiti vandalism attest to the necessity of abatement programs.