A 25-year-old Inglewood resident who says he's fed up with crime has become the first person to receive a $100 city reward for catching someone defacing property with graffiti.
Carl Robertson, who works as a tool cutter in Hawthorne, received the reward from Mayor Edward Vincent at a City Council meeting last week. Robertson helped chase down three teen-age boys he saw spray-painting graffiti on a garage near his home the night of Jan. 9.
According to the city, the boys fled after Robertson, who was driving by, asked them what they were doing. He followed them for a block, then got out of his car and chased them for another block and a half. Two Inglewood police officer on routine patrol joined in the chase until the youths were caught.
Mayor Vincent said he was pleased to give the money "to someone who was willing to get involved, at considerable personal risk, in our fight against graffiti."
The city established the reward to combat graffiti three years ago, but had never had the occasion to spend it, Deputy City Manager Norman Y. Cravens said.
"It's rare that anyone gets caught spraying graffiti because it's usually done late at night," he said. "And most people on their own would not chase people down, particularly three of them."
He added that graffiti often is the work of gang members, who can be dangerous.
In explaining why he gave chase, Robertson said, "My garage has been written on several times and I've had a few home burglaries. I just refused to let it go on." He said that even though the youths, 16 and 17, matched his own height of 6 feet, he wasn't afraid.
"Something takes over and you lose all fear. You don't care what they have, who they are, or what size they are," he said.