BOISE - If you look across downtown Boise you will find lots of street art.
Some of it really is commissioned art, but in many spots it's vandalism.
Boise police says they are watching closely what pops up across the city.
Police say it took a lot of investigative work and a little bit of luck to catch a man wanted in connection to more than 100 taggings.
We aren't going to name the tags this accused vandal was using, but chances are, you've probably seen it.
"I don't want to say the city of Boise has an epidemic of graffiti, but if you look for it, you will find it," said John Tucker.
Tucker is a neighborhood contact officer with the Boise Police Department. Part of his job is investigating graffiti.
Tucker says when he take a look at all the graffiti reports, he starts to notice familiar tags. Over the last two years BPD has been following what they believed to be one vandal marking hundreds of tags across the city.
Tucker logged and followed images while trying to track down the person responsible. It took a lot of investigative work, but finally one night, Tucker and BPD believe they got a lucky break when they responded to a report of someone stealing spray paint.
"He was caught stealing 27 cans of spray paint from a local merchant. In the process one of the patrol officers took a photograph of his wallet that had some specific drawings on it that as soon as I saw that, that's who I need to talk to," said Tucker.
That man is 32-year-old Christopher Campos, who police have linked to over 100 different taggings that have been found from Boise all the way to Portland. Campos now faces a felony.
When it came down to the investigative work of linking all the graffiti, Tucker says it came down to a familiar theme -- a vandal’s signature.
"You'll find those in almost all of the writing they do, so once you start putting those together you will be able to see which ones belong to them,” said Tucker.
Once that's identified, a vandal’s confession can be seen signed across the city.
Many ask why vandals do what they do, and Tucker says your guess is as good as his.
"I wish I knew. People sometimes just get excited about being able to see the paint that they put up or the markings they put up and know that it annoys people," he said.
Tucker says what he does know for sure is how the community can help keep vandals from defacing the city.
"When you see this stuff, let us know, make sure we are aware of it, get it reported so we can track it and ultimately catch these guys that are defacing our city," he said.
Boise police investigates, in some capacity, every vandalism call they get, and they take it very seriously.
What they usually do is log the vandalism in a system so they can keep track of everything. That system goes back more than 10 years.
Why do they do it?
BPD says they want to try and solve small problems before they turn into big ones.
Campos, the man accused of vandalism in this story, will be back in court for a preliminary hearing later this month.
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