STERLING – Someone used pink spray paint to scrawl over the front of a mobile home at Griswold Avenue and 13th Street – probably late Sunday night or early Monday morning.
What does the graffiti say? It’s hard to understand, probably a communication from one gang to a rival.
Late Monday morning, a Sauk Valley Media reporter knocked on the door of a neighbor to the mobile home. From the neighbor’s house, the mobile home’s front can’t be seen, only the side. So a woman who answered the door didn’t know about the vandalism.
She walked over to take a look.
“This is ridiculous,” said the woman, who moved to the neighborhood 10 years ago.
She suspected the vandalism happened overnight because she hadn’t noticed it the day before.
Vandalism in the neighborhood, she said, has become more frequent over time. She said the owner had been working on the mobile home, unoccupied for at least 10 years.
She planned to notify him.
That’s not the only vandalism that’s appeared in recent days on Sterling’s west end. A fence along a salvage yard at Griswold and West Fourth Street was marked with graffiti – some in pink, the rest in black.
No one from the storage yard was there late Monday morning, but a can of solvent and some rags laid on the ground near the front gate – an indication the owner planned to eliminate the vandalism soon.
On May 31, Sterling police responded to three reports of vandalism in the 600 to 900 blocks of Griswold, Sgt. Steve Hubbard said.
This recent graffiti followed a spate of vandalism on the west side during early spring.
While the city has received reports of graffiti, it has otherwise been quiet on the gang front in recent weeks, Hubbard said.
As for the vandalism, he said, a gang may be trying to claim territory or putting down a rival gang.
“One gang does the graffiti, and another writes over it,” Hubbard said.
If graffiti is on a private home, the property owner is responsible for removing it under a city ordinance. Failure to do so can result in a fine of $75 to $750.
“Normally, we try to seek compliance with homeowners. If you leave the graffiti, gangs will keep writing over it. It’s a matter of a tag war,” he said.
Also, leaving vandalism deters prospective businesses from moving here, Hubbard said.
“That’s another reason why we try to encourage people to take off the graffiti.”