509 v. 541? Taggers caught; graffiti goes on

By RAELYNN RICARTE

News staff writer

February 17, 2007

Two teenagers have been arrested for tagging by Hood River City Police — but vandals continue to target properties throughout town.

A 16-year-old Ninth Court male was arraigned this week for felony criminal mischief. The juvenile came under investigation because of information posted on his MySpace account.

Frank Kenneth Bales, 18, has been accused of joining the minor in a Jan. 27 crime spree. The suspects are believed by law enforcement officials to have used blue, gray and white spray paint on vehicles, school buildings, houses, and park facilities.

According to reports, traces of matching paint were found on the hands of Bales and his alleged accomplice during questioning. Officers Mike Martin and Sal Rivera also collected empty cans at several sites that were tested for fingerprints.

Police have declined to comment on whether a match was made with either suspect.

Police Lt. Dave Thompson said the arrests of the two teens may have solved some of the recent problems. But he believes that a group of other Hood River juveniles are engaged in a “graffiti war” with White Salmon youth.

On Wednesday night, several neighborhoods in the Heights were tagged with red paint. The Washington state telephone prefix 509 was a common theme sprayed on a billboard, business, house and vehicles. The Oregon prefix 541 has been spray-painted on buildings across the Columbia River.

“We think some of this damage is the result of a rivalry that began during football season. But it is a crime and anyone caught by us will be punished,” said Thompson.

Martin and Rivera received a citizen tip that led them to question Bales and the juvenile male. A Eugene Street woman alerted them to information that she had gleaned from the Internet and believed might help them solve the crime.

She had found a name on the MySpace account of a local teen that matched the one painted on her car.

That same moniker had been painted on the basketball shed of a nearby park. It also appeared on the “bowl” at a skate park across town.

Police then made a visit to the home of the younger teen. Both he and Bales were present and reportedly admitted to the damage at the skate park. However, they denied tagging May Street School, four new houses off Hull Street and three vehicles along Sherman Avenue.

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