As is true for crime in general, warmer weather tends to bring with it an increase in vandalism, according to the Columbus Division of Police.

As is true for crime in general, warmer weather tends to bring with it an increase in vandalism, according to the Columbus Division of Police.

In the past few months, there have been few problems with graffiti in German Village, but it's still important to know police procedures when dealing with the crime.

When there is an incident of graffiti, said Officer Jay Collins, 11th precinct community liaison, a property owner should photograph it immediately, then cover it up. It is also possible to have a member of the division come out to check out the graffiti.

"If you leave it there, it is a welcome mat," Collins said. "When you cover it up you are telling them, 'We aren't having it here.'"

Collins said the photo should be given to the police for documentation.

He said a photograph helps the department on several levels. It allows the division to research whether the graffiti is gang-related and acts as a tracking tool.

Collins said he knows of two recent incidents of "tagging" -- a type of signature -- in the area.

"The tagging that we had here in the village was signature, not gang-related, but we should be aware of it so we can keep a trail of where this guy is, where he was and where he is going," he said.

Tagging is a misdemeanor and punishable with up to a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail, plus restitution for damaged property.

"Tagging is illegal when one does not have permission to do so, and I don't see resident in the village saying, 'Hey, tag my flower box, tag my stop sign,'" Collins said.

It's difficult for the division to stop taggers, and even to catch them, he said.

"You have to catch them in the act," he said. "Once you catch them in the act doing their signature you can go back and give them charges for what they have left behind."

In regard to city property, Collins said residents should not cover up the graffiti but instead contact the city.

"Let us know and city maintenance will come out and take care of that," he said.

Collins can be contacted at Jdcollins@columbuspolice.org or by calling 614-645-1411.

Dcross@thisweeknews.com