ELLSWORTH, Maine — A recent string of graffiti has Ellsworth police reaching out to the public for help nabbing the mystery vandal.
A spray-painted diamond — sometimes accompanied by words or initials but often alone — has popped up on streets, walls and private property throughout the city. On Monday, employees at Allen’s Blueberry Freezer on Main Street discovered the symbol emblazoned five-feet-tall on the side of one of their fuel trucks.
Detective Dotty Small with the Ellsworth Police Department said she first noticed the graffiti on side streets and mailboxes throughout town two weeks ago. The diamond, as well as other tags, has appeared at the Downeast Scenic Railroad, on a dumpster behind Rite-Aid, at Goodwill and at a city garage.
Small estimates the damage has cost each victim hundreds of dollars.
Recurrent graffiti symbols are often an individual or a gang’s way of claiming turf, Small said, and the diamond symbol has started showing up on top of other graffiti — a common sign of disrespect in graffiti circles. Still, she’s not convinced a turf war is imminent in Ellsworth.
“I don’t know at this point what it is,” she said Tuesday. “I’m kind of hoping someone will tell me.”
While most cities deal with graffiti occasionally, police Lt. Harold Page said this level of vandal activity is not common in Ellsworth.
“We don’t have a lot of this,” he said Tuesday. “We have had a few cases of it recently, but it’s not common around here.”
In late summer of 2010, Small said, three young boys were found guilty of tagging across town, including on school property, after the department distributed photos of the graffiti and asked for tips.
“Somebody called in and they knew whose tag it was,” she said. “[It was] three juveniles and they were all charged and worked to clean it up.”
The department is hoping to have the same luck again, and has posted photos of the tag on its Facebook page, seeking tips on the culprit. Aggravated vandalism can be a Class C crime, Small said, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Anyone with information about the graffiti call the police department at 667-2168, or the anonymous line at 669-6114.
Follow Mario Moretto on Twitter at @riocarmine.