For Immediate Release: 3/31/2017 11:14 pm
Worcester, MA (March 31, 2017) - For the past several weeks, members of the Neighborhood Response Team (NRT) have been working in partnership with the WPD Gang Unit, WPD Detective Bureau, WPD Real Time Crime Center, local business owners, and the City of Worcester Inspectional Services to address graffiti throughout the city. This collaboration was the result of information obtained over a month ago at the weekly WPD command staff meeting run by Chief Steven M. Sargent. Members of the command staff began to notice an uptick in graffiti in some areas of the city.
Initially members of the Gang Unit inspected the reported graffiti but determined that the majority of the recent incidents did not involve gang markings. As a result, members of the NRT took over the investigation. During the investigation officers noticed that the word “SEAR” was being tagged throughout the city. The majority of the tagging appeared on businesses. In all, there were 8 reported graffiti incidents throughout the city starting from February 17th through March 16th that had a version of “SEAR” written. All incidents appeared to have come from the same person.
Members of the NRT were able to obtain some video footage of a vehicle that the suspect was a passenger in. The license plate was obtained from the footage. In one incident, the video displayed a male exiting the passenger side of the vehicle and spray painted a building with “SEAR RCA.” On another day the same vehicle drove up to a business and the same male exited the passenger side and spray painted the same tag on the wall.
Through the vehicle license plate, officers were able to identify the owner of the suspect vehicle. The registered owner resides within the city. NRT officers set up surveillance of the owner’s home for approximately two weeks at different times of the day. At one point during the surveillance officers went to the home and spoke with residents. It was determined then that the operator of the vehicle was the owner’s 18-year-old daughter. The male depicted in the footage was identified as the daughter’s 15-year-old boyfriend. Both the daughter and the male suspect were in the home at the time of the officer’s visit.
NRT officers spoke with the two briefly. The juvenile male was asked to come to police headquarters and discuss the tagging incidents. One of the officers spoke with the boy’s mother via phone and asked her to meet with her son at police headquarters and to accompany him during the interview.
As a result of the interview the teen was charged with eight counts of Defacing Real or Personal Property.
There have been other recent tagging issues throughout the city that NRT officers are currently looking into. Officers believe that several other suspects are involved. This investigation is ongoing, if anyone has information about this incident they can send an anonymous text to 274637 TIPWPD + your message or send an anonymous web based message at worcesterma.gov/police. Calls can also be made to the Worcester Police Detective Bureau at (508) 799-8651.