WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – City leaders in Wilmington are dealing with an up tick in vandalism, ahead of the upcoming tourist season.
Vandals have reportedly been busy littering the city's landscape with graffiti.
With the Azalea Festival around the corner, leaders don't want the problem to "paint" Wilmington in a bad light when tourist season begins.
Lieutenant George Perkins with the Wilmington Police Department said they've recently seen an increase in graffiti in the downtown area of Wilmington.
"We saw an increase after Christmas," said Perkins. "It's something we deal with weekly, even daily."
A wall near the riverfront, where the USCG Cutter Diligence docks is covered in vandalism. Perkins says it's not really considered a major crime. However, it has become more of a nuisance.
"It's annoying to everyone," said Perkins. "A lot of the issues we have downtown is the same signature or the same tag over and over and over."
Perkins says the hardest part is figuring out who the culprits are. Perkins explained it's difficult to track down suspects unless they get caught in the act.
To make matters worse, if vandals strike a private business, it's up to that business owner to have it removed, or face a fee from the city.
"I think it would be bad if visitors saw it," said Candles, Etc. owner Mike Lambrix. "The worst part is when the vandalism is left up for a while and the vandal gets recognition."
Lambrix says stopping the vandalism takes a community effort, like getting witnesses to call police when they see it happen.
"Whether it is graffiti or public drunkenness -- you need to take action yourself and not expect other people to do it for you," said Lambrix.
The city tries to have vandalism cleaned up within 48 hours.
As for the Coast Guard wall, that's actually federal property.
A spokesperson for the USCG says they started posting two guards on weekends along the riverfront to keep the vandals from striking again.
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