PHOENIX, AZ (October 12, 2011) – A Maricopa County Grand Jury has charged Daniel Alexander Lopez (D.O.B. 5/13/1993) with one class 6 felony count of Aggravated Criminal Damage and one class 5 felony count of Criminal Damage for allegedly committing multiple acts of graffiti that defaced property and structures throughout the Phoenix metro area over a three year period. He is believed to be one of the most prolific graffiti vandals currently in Maricopa County.
“Graffiti is not a harmless form of creative expression. It’s a destructive crime that victimizes entire communities by creating blight and encouraging additional criminal activity,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “In conjunction with the diligent efforts of Phoenix Police and the Phoenix Graffiti Busters program, my office will continue to aggressively pursue graffiti vandals and hold them accountable for their destructive actions,” he added.
On May 10, 2011 Phoenix Police Officers spotted Lopez trespassing on State property near an on-ramp to State Route 51 at McDowell Road. This area is near multiple freeway overpasses that are frequently targeted by graffiti vandals. Lopez was found in possession of a tip to an aerosol spray paint can and had white paint on his hands that matched the paint on the spray tip. Officers also found fresh graffiti tags in white paint on structures near the location where Lopez was apprehended.
Lopez later admitted to investigators that he had been “tagging” throughout the Phoenix area since 2006 using the name “Shag,” “Shaggy” and “Shagone.” The current indictment lists more than 30 victims who suffered damages in excess of $5,500. Victims include Family Dollar Stores, Sears, Arizona Department of Transportation, New Hope in Christ Church, and multiple private citizens.
Lopez told investigators he was well aware of the risk he was taking by engaging in graffiti vandalism, adding that he had no plans to stop until he was caught. “If you become a King you will get caught eventually and that’s the risk you have to take,” he said.
Referrals of juvenile graffiti cases to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office have spiked 46% in the last five years, while referrals of cases involving possession of graffiti tools have more than tripled. The County Attorney’s Office typically files formal charges on roughly 90% of criminal damage case submittals (ARS §13-1604), with resulting sentences ranging from probation to two years in prison or longer.
The indictment and information announced today is not evidence of guilt. Mr. Lopez is presumed innocent until proven guilty.