‘Prickly Pear Vandal’ causing problems at UNM

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) –  The University of New Mexico has a prickly pear problem on its hands. A vandal is back tagging buildings on campus with prickly pear juice, ultimately causing a lot of damage.

UNM officials said the vandal first started leaving political messages, written in the juice, on buildings before the Nov. 2012 elections.

“It comes and goes in cycles. We had probably 20 or 30 this spring, and then it went away for the summer,” Willie West, the manager of Environmental Services at UNM, told KRQE.

Now they are back in a big way. West said in the past three to four weeks, more than a dozen tags have been left on campus in the prickly pear juice.

UNM officials asked us to blur some of the text to not give the suspect a bigger platform.

The tags are sticky and smelly, but West says they do wash off. If crews don’t get to the prickly pear tags in a timely manner, however, the juice will stain the building. Each tag takes between one to three hours to remove.

“When you add that labor cost up, it’s not only taking away from other things we can be doing on campus, but it is costing the tax payers a significant amount of money for us to be doing this,” West said.

In general, West said graffiti at UNM is a problem, and that crews spend up to 35 hours a week doing graffiti removal on the 700 acre campus.

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