CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Every year Cincinnati spends $300,000 dollars of taxpayer money for a graffiti cleanup program.
The effort includes a push to catch the criminals and make them pick up the tab for their damage.
"It's isn't art. It's vandalism. It's criminal behavior and the City of Cincinnati is going after them," Linda Holterhoff of Keep Cincinnati Beautiful told FOX19.
Every hour spent and every square foot covered with paint costs the city.
"This is taxpayer's money for people that want to come into our city and vandalize," Holterhoff said.
It is also at the expense of the city's image.
"Graffiti has a negative impact on every community, specifically downtown," Scott Albert said. "It's not the image we want to portray to our visitors and tourists."
"By coming in and doing this type of vandalism it sends a message that we're out of control and we're not out of control," Holterhoff said.
Holterhoff says the difference between art and vandalism is simple: permission. She says less than 10 percent of graffiti tags are gang related and many criminals are simply driving in from the suburbs and tagging in the middle of the night.
"It's something that we need to really stop glamorizing because these young people are ending up with felonies," she told FOX19.
" That's why it's best to remove it as soon as possible because it removes that element of notoriety," officer Albert said.
The City, non-profits and police are forging partnerships to gather data from graffiti tags city-wide
"These graffiti artists, a lot of them communicate through social media.," Albert said. "And they all know; when one gets arrested they find out."
"When they get caught we're going to court with everything we have for restitution which has been in the thousands of dollars lately," Holterhoff said.
To report graffiti in Cincinnati, you can call (513) 591-6000 or visit www.5916000.com.