Omaha Fighting Off Graffiti

There are many fights for the City of Omaha that seem like a never-ending battle. Among those is graffiti.

Wednesday, the city hosted a conference to help fight what it calls the "gateway crime."

Ken Stoysich, owner of Stoysich House of Sausage is one graffiti victim that prefers to spend his time preparing and serving his meat products, rather than cleaning those messes on his building.

Sometimes graffiti artists will add another name to the outside of his business, leaving him with a lot of extra work.

“What are you going to do? You get mad, and paint over it, and hope they leave you alone for a while,” says Stoysich.

Stoysich isn't alone in the battle.

Graffiti has been a problem in Omaha for years, but the city is fighting back hard.

It's recently hosted the Heartland Anti-Graffiti Symposium, sharing its successes and listening to others'.

Omaha Public Works says it has found big success in the last 15 months by engaging the community to work together, sharing best practices to remove graffiti, and training staff, and law enforcement to catch the criminals.

They say this is important because graffiti is a gateway crime.

“They start being exposed to more and more criminal activities; theft, alcohol and drug abuse is huge in the graffiti subculture, violent behavior such as domestic abuse,” says Heather Tippey Pierce, of the Omaha Public Works Department.

The city says graffiti has gone down dramatically over the past years. However, in areas like 24th or Vinton Streets, it's still a pretty big problem.

Stoysich, whose business is along 24th Street, has found his own way to fight the problem. If he removes the graffiti right away, the taggers leave him alone. “Well if their handiwork isn't there anymore, they kind of give up and say 'OK, well, we'll never see our work in the daylight because it's gone already,'” Stoysich says.

Those attending the Heartland Anti-Graffiti Symposium came from as far as North Dakota, Texas, and even New York.

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