South Gate : $5,000 Donation Restores Graffiti Reward Program
South Gate is once again paying a $500 reward for the arrest and conviction of anyone caught spraying graffiti.
Payments were suspended when the city ran out of money in December. But the offer became available again when a local business, Rockview Farms, donated $5,000 to the reward fund.
Payment of the reward became an issue last week when a participant, Jason Rhodes, complained in a newspaper article that he had not been paid money due him. Rhodes said he had turned in vandals on three different occasions in 1990 and had been paid only twice.
“On the third time, they wouldn’t pay. They gave me the runaround, saying they lost my paperwork,” Rhodes said.
Rhodes said he complained publicly only after he discovered that the program was out of money. He said officials should have told him immediately that there was no money in the program.
The donation will enable the city to pay Rhodes, a 24-year-old security guard for a South Gate business, and three other people who turned in vandals.
The city appropriated $12,000 for the program last year, but used up the money by December after paying $500 rewards to 24 people, Police Chief Ron George said.
A $5,000 check was given to the City Council on Monday by Rockview Farms’ owner Amos DeGroot and his son Curt DeGroot.
“We care about the city and support the graffiti reward program,” Curt DeGroot said. The DeGroot family has owned Rockview Farms since the late 1960s.
Curt DeGroot said he hoped other businesses would follow his company’s lead and make donations to the graffiti reward program.
Meanwhile, the city will continue to try and find ways to finance the program, Mayor Robert Philipp said. Officials might consider reducing the reward amount, Philipp said. Three years ago the reward was $300.