Brazen graffiti vandals put cleaning crews at risk

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – It’s a routine job that is becoming more and more dangerous. Graffiti cleaning crews from the City of Albuquerque say not only are the calls for clean up on the rise, but vandals are finding more dangerous spots to leave their mark.

KRQE News 13 followed a cleaning crew from the city’s Solid Waste Department around town and found graffiti in dangerous spots like the wall on a steep hill above the I-40 near Coors. Crews also had to stand on the I-40 on ramp, with traffic driving right behind them at high speeds, to clean an outer wall.

“When graffiti vandals get into these hard to reach places, it puts our crews in danger,” says Bobby Sisneros with the City of Albuquerque Solid Wast Department.

It’s not only city crews at risk, but others getting rid of graffiti. New Mexico Department of Transportation crews will have to somehow clean up the mess left on the outer pillars of the pedestrian bridge over Interstate 40 near Coors. City teams say they might offer the DOT a hand, but that could mean stopping traffic on I-40 while the job gets done.

Some of the tags appear to be from repeat offenders. In February, the historic Sunshine Theater in downtown was left with marks similar to those found on the I-40 on-ramp wall on the west side. The cost for the clean-up comes right out of your pocket.

“Each year, the Clean Cities Division has a budget set aside for graffiti removal,” adds Sisneros. “Approximately $1.2 million and that’s an annual budget. With that budget it pays for graffiti crews to go around the city and take care of graffiti as they see it.”

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