The Hunt for JIMBO: How one tagger is causing a big problem

Meet “JIMBO.”

His name is crookedly splattered on everything from mailboxes to metal grates mostly in the Port Richmond/Fishtown/Kensington area.

And the locals want his spray can.

“It’s annoying,” said Chris Lyons, the 27-year-old tweeting from the @PortRichmondPHL handle. Lyons moved to Port Richmond two years ago and he wants to help revive his neighborhood. And people like JIMBO are standing in the way.

“These neighborhoods, Fishtown especially and Port Richmond hopefully, are getting some good things going on and making some changes for the better,” Lyons said. “And it’s a shame to see somebody continuously bringing everything down.”

Lyons tries to use Twitter as a weapon. Posting pictures of fresh graffiti to try and raise awareness and curb unnecessary destruction in the river wards.

“It’s not just JIMBO,” he said. “It’s upsetting. It’s disrespectful of other people’s property and other people’s time and money, too

No one has caught JIMBO in the act but locals call for an end. Not just for his handiwork along the river wards, but because of what he represents: unsightly stains tarnishing a vibrant area.

In sociology, the broken-windows theory holds that if a neighborhood or city doesn’t fix its broken windows and graffiti, the environment will continue to descend into crime, chaos and violence, according to reports.

“You solve some of the smaller problems,” said Tom Conway, city deputy managing director. “Then we solve some of the bigger ones.”

Conway is also head of Anti-Graffiti Network. He said there is “always going be a problem with graffiti in the city,” he said.

“And the best we can do is maintain it,” he said. “Our biggest deterrent is the quickest removal of the graffiti vandalism.”

Michael Ryan, a graffiti admirer, sees JIMBO’s trademark all over the city. He said there is a blurry line between art and destruction.

“Sometimes I think that it’s a different, emerging form of art,” he said, “Other times you can see it hitting closer to home.”

To catch a tagger

To catch a destructive spray painter, the city isolates one tagger at a time, officials said. Their work is documented as crews remove them, and police follow the trail.

Once caught, the city estimates the cost to clean the graffiti and hands the tagger a bill.

One tagger recently caught was handed a hefty bill.

“We’re talking about tens of thousands of dollars in destruction,” Conway said.

Graffiti vs. art

Tom Conway said graffiti is a big problem in the river wards, but he thinks many aren’t offended.

“The hipsters are there,” he said. “I think a lot of times people are more tolerant of graffiti vandalism if they are more artistic.”

Different neighborhoods stomach different expressions. In certain areas, what Conway calls “pieces,” are considered artistic. These usually consist of a name in several different colors in an elaborate display.

“When you look at that, they do have some kind of artistic talent,” he said. “But that would not be tolerated in other sections of the city.”

But don’t confuse those with JIMBO’s kind.

“Now, tagging on the other hand, that’s just plain destruction,” Conway said. “There’s not artistic talent whatsoever with a tagger. He’s just being destructive and writing his name as many places as he can. … and that’s where we focus a lot of our attention on.”

By the numbers

123,000: The number of properties the city cleaned graffiti off of last year.

A graffiti admirer

Michael Ryan has heard interviews where taggers say they won’t touch schools, residences, public buildings, buses, or other public transportation.

Others will only touch abandoned lots and buildings in decay.

“And I can see a little bit more of the logic in that,” Ryan said. “Kind of beautifying something that’s not being paid any attention to begin with anyway.”


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Memorial held for Sean Collier, MIT police officer…

More than 1,600 people gathered at MIT on Friday for a memorial service for Sean Collier, the police officer shot to death a year ago in the aftermath of the…

National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox

Sports

2014 Boston Marathon preview: Elite American, International runners…

2014 Boston Marathon: Elite American, International runners to watch

NBA

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams…

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams have the best shot at a championship. The Thunder, Clippers, Heat and Rockets lead the way.

NFL

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.