Surveillance: Detroit police let go graffiti vandal who spray-painted occupied building

Scott Kraz has done everything he can to stop graffiti vandals from painting on his occupied building on Gratiot in Detroit.

He bought video cameras and has an angle grinder to clean the graffiti, but 15 years of vandalism is taking its toll on his 137-year-old brick building, where he lives and has commercial space. If he doesn’t clean up the graffiti, he faces a $500 fine from the city.

Scott Kraz's wall. (Steve Neavling/MCM)
Scott Kraz’s wall. (Steve Neavling/MCM)

Five days after Kraz chased away graffiti writers who were defacing his building, Detroit police spotted one of the vandals painting on the same brick wall at 6:40 p.m. Sunday. Instead of ticketing the vandal, police let him go after a brief discussion.

The other graffiti writers hid. 

The entire episode was caught on Kraz’s surveillance.

Exclusive: Meet some of Detroit’s most destructive graffiti vandals 

“It’s against the law, and these buildings are clearly occupied, but the police decide to let him go?” Kraz said in frustration. “I think the police should come and clean up the graffiti since they decided not to do anything.”

Wall of neighbor's building.
Wall of neighbor’s building.

Police have not yet responded to our request for comment, but late last month Chief James Craig told us: “The department will not tolerate individuals who maliciously deface or vandalize any buildings or structures within our city, and we will make every effort to ensure that those laws protecting the beauty of our communities are enforced with utmost integrity and sense of urgency.”

Graffiti policeThe proliferation of graffiti has never been more evident in Detroit, and many blame police apathy. Vandals are painting during the day and hitting churches, cars, schools, historic buildings, road signs, sidewalks, gas pumps, street lights and homes. 

Vandals often brag about “graffiti-friendly” police on social media, spreading news that vandalism is tolerated in Detroit.

Other stories about graffiti:

DNR ranger under investigation for vandalizing Detroit with graffiti
No shame! Graffiti vandals hit historic churches in Detroit at disturbing rate
Detroit mulls graffiti task force as vandalism gets out of control 

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

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