By DOUGLAS W. MOTLEY
Graffiti and tagging in public places has long been the bane of city dwellers and even shows up in the mountaintop communities from time to time, though it seems to have died out in recent years, thanks to the efforts of volunteer organizations that paint over the sometimes colorful artwork of mostly urban gang members.
Now, however, a new form of tagging – some call it “sticker tagging” – is sweeping through the Southland and has recently showed up in Crestline and other nearby mountaintop communities.
The rash of stickers adhered to public buildings, business establishments, stop signs, lamp posts, mail drop boxes and vending machines in public places has literally become an out-of-control epidemic. No one – other than the perpetrators – seems to know the origin of this epidemic and whether it is the work of local gangs or party crews, but the word on the street is that the Crestline skate park is “ground zero” for this spreading act of vandalism.
Most of the adhesive stickers seen throughout Crestline, Lake Arrowhead and Running Springs consist of short phrases such as “SUBZ SUAAR TNS City NBD,” “ZUMZ SUAAR 2022,” “SUAAR KAJA” and other puzzling variants, all centered around “SUAAR.” Don’t bother looking it up on the Internet; it simply isn’t there.
Sheriff’s deputies and California Highway Patrol officers are aware of these stickers that are defacing traffic signage between Crestline and Big Bear but, as of yet, have not caught anyone in the act of slapping these stickers onto signs and structures.
CHP Public Affairs Officer Ubaldo Gonzalez recently told The Alpine Mountaineer the offense of defacing public property is considered vandalism, which is generally treated as a misdemeanor. In California, the penalty for committing misdemeanor vandalism is a term of one year in county jail, a fine of up to $1,000 or both a fine and imprisonment. In California, vandalism is punished based on the value of the property. This makes the crime a “wobbler.”
However, if the offense rises to the level of a felony (damage of $400 or more), the penalty can be a term of up to three years in a state prison, a fine of up to $50,000 or both imprisonment and a fine.
Anyone who witnesses any kind of vandalism is urged to get a description of the suspect and – if it involves public or private property – report the crime to the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department at (909) 336-0600. If it involves stop signs, speed limit signs or any other public safety signs, get a description of the suspect and report the incident to the CHP at (909) 867-2791.
A postal drop box in Valley of Enchantment has been wearing these stickers since last October. (Photos by Douglas W. Motley)
This defaced sign is just outside the main entrance to the Crestline post office.
Lake Drive in Crestline is the location of this defaced speed limit sign.