Drawing smiley faces and writing love notes typically aren’t against the law, but UVU police are searching for a graffiti artist who picked the wrong canvas.
Three different spray-painted messages were left on campus this semester. Two of them were found in the tunnel between the Computer Sciences building and Mountainside lot 21. The third was located on a retaining wall just south of the Gunther Trade building.
The messages included sayings such as “I love you” and “question everything,” and each was punctuated with a smiley face.
The light-hearted theme of the messages isn’t amusing authorities. According to Detective K. Liddiard of the UVU Police Department, this isn’t a joking matter.
“It’s taken seriously because there’s a cost in cleaning it up,” Liddiard said. “There’s cost for cleaning and then damage cost.”
According to Jack Boswell, the director of facilities and grounds at UVU, those costs can add up to as much as $500 in each individual case, and the graffiti can take several hours to remove.
In instances of graffiti and vandalism, the UVUPD is often concerned about possible gang affiliation. Police do not believe that to be an issue in this case.
The Utah state courts website states that, if caught, the suspect could be charged with a class A misdemeanor, which can carry penalties of up to a $2,500 fine and as much as a year of jail time.
Despite the unusual nature of this case, graffiti is a consistent problem faced at UVU.
“It’s a continual effort because we get a lot of graffiti,” Liddiard said. “A lot of it happens so quickly that it’s kind of hard to track out, so we ask for people that if they see somebody doing something like that that they’ll give us a call because we’re here 24/7. So if somebody sees something at night we can follow up on it.”