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Residents Help Officer Nab 6 Vandals in Graffiti Spree : Tarzana: The teen-agers are arrested at a yogurt shop. A civilian patrol team tailed the youths after watching them ‘tag’ a tunnel.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Los Angeles police and West Valley residents nabbed a group of graffiti vandals at a frozen yogurt shop Friday night after spotting them in the act of spray painting their “tags” in a Tarzana tunnel, a police spokeswoman said.

“They had green paint all over them and they were wearing baseball caps decorated with the same logo that they were tagging,” Officer Sharyn Michelson said.

The youths, described as two 15-year-old girls and a 14-, a 15-, and two 16-year-old boys, were arrested on suspicion of vandalism at Heidi’s Frogen Yozurt Shop at Ventura Boulevard and Yolanda Avenue, Michelson said.

A Los Angeles police officer had teamed up with members of the California Emergency Mobile Patrol, a civilian group that helps officers fight crime in the West Valley area, Michelson said. Together, the officer and the residents started out Friday evening patrolling Ventura at Tampa Avenue, an area that had been hard hit by graffiti “taggers.”

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“The businesses there were being vandalized,” Michelson said.

As the evening progressed, the group moved into an area near Yolanda Avenue and Burbank Boulevard where taggers had been seen spray-painting graffiti in a tunnel, Michelson said. The officer and residents followed the teen-agers to the frozen yogurt shop, waited for more officers to arrive and arrested the youths.

“The sad part is that these are the kids who when they do this . . . they can end up getting shot,” Michelson said.

More public attention has been paid to graffiti painting since a 17-year-old student was shot to death last month by a classmate on the Reseda High School campus, perhaps because of rivalry between graffiti tagging “posses,” police said.

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