Nathan Milian rattles off the spots: There’s the loading dock outside the DSI Comedy Theater, the transfer box behind Harris Teeter, the wall on the old Fleet Feet building facing the railroad tracks.
The property manager at Carr Mill Mall knows the spots because he spends a lot of money cleaning them up. Last year, he estimates, he spent $3,000 removing graffiti and glued-on fliers.
The Carrboro Police Department has received 14 graffiti complaints this year. Last year, from March through December, the town received 35 complaints. The numbers don’t reflect all incidents because some property owners and tenants don’t report graffiti.
Police Chief Carolyn Hutchison is convinced the problem is getting worse.
“It’s on buildings. It’s on signs. It’s on bike paths. It’s on private property. It’s on public property,” she said. “It’s everywhere.”
Hutchison blames anarchists for much of the graffiti increase.
”Anarchists have claimed the area and are marking their territory,” she told town officials in an email this month. Their symbols – a capital letter A, sometimes inside a circle; a skull with an A on the forehead – show up frequently.
Neal Richards, a local anarchist who participated in the Yates Motor and CVS demonstrations, referred questions about graffiti to Internet websites and said he wasn't aware of an increase. Many websites confirm the anarchist connection to the letter A and skull symbols.
In an interview, Hutchison said she doesn’t want to say all that police are doing or may do. Officers have looked for graffiti taggers, she said. But much of the activity happens between 2 and 6 a.m., and the department, authorized at 41 officers, has two positions frozen and two more vacant.
“The best case is that you catch them in the act ... but again, where do you look? And how many officers do you want to have doing that?” Hutchison said. “It’s a very quick crime to do.”
We'll have more on the graffiti issue coming in Wednesday's Chapel Hill News.