Santa Cruz Area Serial Tagger Arrested

Santa Cruz Area Serial Tagger Arrested

Police Have Linked Him To Numerous Tags

WATSONVILLE—The Watsonville Police Department have made the most important arrest since they have started to take a aggressive stance on the graffiti problem that has plagued their city since September. The arrest of 18-year-old Gilbert Joseph Barrios (aka Kat) from Freedom, the town just north of the Watsonville Airport, has come as a result of an intensive investigation.

Although the City of Watsonville has been dealing with the problem of vandals defacing public property for years, they have seen a rise in the number of taggings since September. It was the increase in taggings that got the attention of one of Watsonville’s finest, in particular the tag “KAT” which, according Corporal Rudy Lopez of the Watsonville Police Department, made him decide to do something about the town’s graffiti.

Corporal Lopez now heads the department’s Graffiti Abatement Team, and it is now his job to investigate vandalism in the City. “I saw his tag all around town, so I personally chose him to start an investigation” Corporal Lopez said.

Watsonville tagging out of hand (image

Watsonville tagging out of hand (image

As Lopez began his investigation, a number of times he would get close to linking a suspect to the vandalism, but did not have the hard evidence. His Investigation took him to the City of Capitola and the County of Monterey as well. It seems that Barrios wanted his tag known to everyone, as the investigation produced taggings in the cities of Pajaro and Capitola.

It was not until February of this year that Corporal Lopez received a big piece of evidence. On Thursday, February 26, the California Highway Patrol out of Santa Cruz pulled an under-aged driver over for driving while intoxicated, and a subsequent search of his vehicle produced tagging evidence.

They did not arrest Barrios for vandalism at that point because they still needed to work on the investigation. But he was charged with possession of concentrated cannabis, driving with drugs in his system, and expired license tags. It was not until Thursday, March 12, that the Watsonville Police Department identified and arrested Barrios as the infamous “Kat” tagger.

“He did not resist arrest and was somewhat cooperative, but was not forthcoming with information about the tags, nor his involvement in vandalism on the street of Watsonville“ Watsonville Police Sergeant Saul Gonzalez said.

Barrios was arrested for felony vandalism with estimated damage to be in the thousands of dollars. He is accused of damaging 80 businesses and public buildings. He is in the Santa Cruz County Jail on charges of vandalism of over 5000.00 dollars, conspiracy to commit a crime, and vandalism with a possible drill. His bail has been enhanced to 25,000.00 dollars

“There was “NO” artistic value to his taggings – about 99 percent of them were total junk.” Watsonville Public Works representative Rex stated, “It seemed like he was tagging on a nightly basis.”

“The paint is certainly a big issue but it’s the engraving of glass and the stickers that is also a problem; not just the downtown area but anyplace there is public visibility” Watsonville City Council Member and Former Mayor Lowell Hurst added. “Business owners are very frustrated because it damages their property and they have to pay to fix it.”

Santa Cruz Area Serial Tagger Arrested was last modified: March 17th, 2015 by admin
Categories: Santa Cruz

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