An alert citizen helped police tag a trio of suspected graffiti artists early Sunday in the North Side, police said.
Shortly before 5 a.m., the unidentified witness called 911 to report seeing three men on Compromise Street loading spray-paint cans into their backpacks from the trunk of a white Chevrolet Cobalt. The witness stayed in the area to direct Pittsburgh police down a staircase to Howard Street near a pedestrian walkway across Interstate 279.
Officers followed the Cobalt and stopped it, Sgt. Christina Davison said.
“They could smell fresh paint,” she said. “They all had fresh paint on the hands.”
Police said they confiscated 136 cans of spray paint, rope ladders, paint masks and three 1-gallon paint cans.
Davison said officers found three fresh pieces of graffiti near the walkway: “NEWK” in pink letters about 3 feet tall and 8 to 10 feet long; “NK” in pink and white, about 2 by 4 feet; and another tag about 3 by 8 feet.
Police arrested Brenden Warren, 21, of Mt. Lebanon; Jacob Mey, 19, of Castle Shannon; and John Obenreder, 22, of Coraopolis.
Obenreder was arraigned on Sunday afternoon on one charge of criminal mischief and released on his own recognizance. Warren and Mey were awaiting arraignment.
If the cost of cleaning up the tags is more than $5,000, the three could face felony charges, Davison said.
Police said the smell of fresh paint lingered into the afternoon.
Some studies say graffiti costs Americans more than $8 billion a year, according to Graffiti911.com.
This article was written by Channel 11's news exchange partners at TribLIVE.