Boston law enforcement is cracking down on graffiti.
Over the past two weeks, police arrested three high-profile graffiti taggers and charged them with felonies.
Boston police arrested 22-year-old Marc Meadowcroft of Revere on July 16, 22-year-old Brett Cullen of Quincy on Monday, and 19-year-old Logan O’Keefe of Mattapan on Tuesday.
A Boston police spokeswoman called the three some of the most “prevalent and notorious” graffiti vandals in the city. The decision to charge them with felonies was due to their repeated attempts to vandalize property, officials said, police spokeswoman Rachel McGuire said.
“This is a habitual thing for these offenders,” McGuire said. “These particular suspects create a quality-of-life issue in Boston.”
According to Massachusetts law, graffiti is punishable by up to three years in state prison for a felony charge and up to two years in a house of correction for a misdemeanor. A fine of $1,500 or three times the value of the property marked may also be assessed in both cases.
Community leaders who have fought against graffiti said the felony charges were appropriate.
“It’s appropriate to hold these people accountable,” said Anne Swanson, chairwoman of the Graffiti NABBers committee which is a part of the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay. “I think they should be charged with the full impact of what they’ve done.”
Meadowcroft, 22, was arrested in East Boston by Boston police about 10 days after video cameras caught him allegedly drawing his tag sign “CIGA” on a door at the MBTA’s Forest Hills Station. Meadowcroft has four outstanding warrants for vandalism and disorderly conduct, according to police.
MBTA Transit Police said they have been aware of Meadowcroft’s “serial graffiti” activity for the past few years. In January 2014, Meadowcroft vandalized two vintage trolleys on display at the Boylston Street Station. Meadowcroft was arrested in March 2015, pleaded guilty, and agreed to stop vandalizing MTBA property to avoid jail time, police said.
But in 2016, Meadowcroft was allegedly caught on camera spraying graffiti on property in the Green Street Station, according to a posting on the Transit Police’s website.
Meadowcroft has showed a “complete and utter disregard for people’s property,” said Transit Police Superintendent Richard Sullivan.
O’Keefe, 19, was arrested Tuesday by Boston police on Tremont Street after officers observed him drawing the tag sign “SOPEX” on multiple mailboxes, according to a police report. O’Keefe is being charged on six counts of felony tagging/graffiti.
Cullen, 22, was arrested Monday evening by Boston police near the Boston University Bridge on two counts of felony tagging/graffiti. Police said there is an ongoing investigation to determine whether Cullen was involved with graffiti on the Longfellow Bridge, which reopened in late May after five years of reconstruction at an estimated cost of $300 million.
McGuire said the arrests are part of the department’s focus on issues regarding quality of life that Boston residents have communicated to them.
“We want the public to know their concerns aren’t falling on deaf ears,” McGuire said. “It’s been a concerted effort.”
Cullen is due in court Sept. 17, and has been released on his own recognizance with orders to stay away from Boston University, the Suffolk District Attorney’s office said. Meadowcroft is being held without bail pending a hearing on Aug. 16 to determine if he was in violation of his 2015 probation, the Suffolk District Attorney’s office said.
O’Keefe has not yet been arraigned, according to the Suffolk District Attorney’s office.
Marek Mazurek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org