Police arrest man suspected of 300+ graffiti incidents throughout Phoenix

Man arrested for allegedly being involved in over 314 graffiti incidents across Phoenix
Man arrested for allegedly being involved in over 314 graffiti incidents across Phoenix(Phoenix Police Department, Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
Published: Apr. 12, 2022 at 8:17 AM MST|Updated: Apr. 12, 2022 at 5:28 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Phoenix police say they have arrested a man for his alleged involvement in more than 314 graffiti incidents across Phoenix. The total damage costs were about $38,000.

Phoenix Police Sgt. Philip Krynsky says they have been investigating reports of graffiti tagging in several neighborhoods, including in downtown Phoenix and the Roosevelt Row area. All of them contained the “MEYOE.” Police say Manuelito continuously spray-painted or wrote his moniker on hundreds of different surfaces.

Krynsky says investigators with the Central City and Mountain precincts and Property Crimes detectives zeroed in on 20-year-old Toby Manuelito. Police say Manuelito continuously spray-painted or wrote his moniker on hundreds of different surfaces.

“I mean this includes residential, apartment complexes, buildings, lighting, trash cans, anywhere where it’s visible. Even artistic murals that are in certain parts of the city,” said Sgt. Phil Krynsky with the Phoenix Police Department. “When these murals were tagged it started getting the attention of a lot of other people as well which ultimately led to the identification of him.”

They conducted surveillance and found enough evidence to tie Manuelito to the crimes, including hundreds of pens, markers, and spray paint cans. According to court documents, Manuelito committed the crimes between January 2020 and April 2022. The Phoenix Neighborhood Services Department has been working on cleaning the tagged areas, including homes, commercial businesses, murals, and city and state property.

Investigators booked Manuelito into the Maricopa County Jail on suspicion of criminal damage violations. The City of Phoenix Neighborhood Services Department has a Graffiti Busters team that goes out every day to remove graffiti with power-washing tools and paint.

“We document every removal. We take before and after photos. We document the monikers or the tags, the person’s name they’re leaving--their signature basically. We have a database and the police department has access to that and we share information with them freely,” said Betsy Cable, the Code Compliance Manager for the Neighborhood Services Department. “In this particular case, they needed our help just kind of putting it all together. It’s not like we went out and removed all those sites in the last couple of days. We’ve been doing it you know, daily, probably over the last two years.”

Cable says they’ve removed about 51,000 sites of graffiti over the last three years. “When you’re driving in a city you’re not familiar with and you see graffiti everywhere, what’s your first reaction? Do you feel safe? Do you feel like maybe you’re not in a great neighborhood?” Cable said. “At the end of the day, graffiti is damage to somebody’s property.”

To report or tell the city about graffiti, there are three easy ways of doing so. You can use the myPHX311 app under the “Tell the City About” tab, by calling 602-534-4444 or emailing blight@phoenix.gov.