Man confesses to 300 acts of graffiti

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William Barajas By Jennifer Thomas William Barajas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- A 20-year-old man was indicted for criminal damage after Phoenix police said he was responsible for hundreds of acts of graffiti.

William Barajas, who frequently uses the tag "MAWD," confessed to more than 300 acts of graffiti defacing 5,250 square feet of property and costing nearly 100 victims more than $5,500 in damage between October 2009 and January 2011.

Barajas faces a maximum sentence of 6-1/4 years in prison if convicted on both counts.

Barajas was arrested earlier this month after he was observed tagging a pole near Glenrosa and 27th avenues in Phoenix. At the time, he was also wanted by Glendale police on burglary charges.

In addition to the criminal damage charges, Barajas was charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit second-degree burglary in Glendale and one count in Phoenix.

Barajas is believed to be the most prolific graffiti tagger since Joel Delgado, aka "JUGS," who was sentenced to prison last year.

"Graffiti is a crime. It damages property and destroys the pride of the community," said Joseph G. Yahner, acting Phoenix police chief." 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."

Referrals of juvenile graffiti cases to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office have spiked 46 percent in the last five years, while referrals of cases involving possession of graffiti tools have more than tripled.

"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," said 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."