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Oct 25, 2012 9:00 PM by Danielle Lerner

Vandalism, graffiti costing UA lots of time and money

TUCSON-- Vandals are costing the University of Arizona tens of thousands of dollars every year. Graffiti removal is a daily chore on campus, and with a recent spike in broken windows, they are now taking even more money away from other areas in need.

It is a daily grind for the UA's Facilities Department, finding and cleaning up the mess those vandals leave behind.

"In 24 hours we want to have it removed," said Assistant Vice President of Facilities Management Christopher Kopach.

Experience shows a quick response can keep tags from spreading, but it is harder and more expensive than you might think. Spotting and removing all types of graffiti from any of the school's 129 buildings costs the university up to $50,000 per year.

"It's dollars we shouldn't have to spend," Kopach said.

It also makes it tough for crews to keep up with the department's 7,000-10,000 work orders each month.

"If we didn't have to spend so much time on graffiti, we could go ahead and spend even more time on this campus, maintaining it," said Kopach. "It can be very difficult work, and so we prefer to keep this campus looking beautiful at all times."

Many times the problem does not disappear once the power washer comes through. The washers and chemicals can strip away the surface, especially on a brick wall, leaving behind what could be a permanent mark.

The department works closely with campus police to report and track down taggers. It is now encouraging students, teachers and the public to do the same, by reporting any signs of vandalism.

"Whether it's on a building, whether it's on a stop sign, anything that's damaged we want fixed as soon as possible," Kopach said.

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