BURBANK — Four store clerks were cited this week after they allegedly sold spray paint supplies to underage teens who were working undercover for police, officials said.
Several teens volunteered to go undercover Tuesday and purchase spray paint cans at eight merchants, including home improvement stores, Sgt. Claudio Losacco said. Selling spray painting and etching supplies to teens under 18 is illegal.
Of the eight locations tested, four stores sold to the underage buyers, Losacco said.
"It's not good," he said. "We were hoping for full compliance."
Police would not identify which stores were tested or sold to the decoys.
The store clerks who sold spray painting supplies to the teens were cited on suspicion of selling or furnishing paint supplies to a minor, Losacco said.
The City Attorney's Office will review the case and make a determination on whether to move forward with charges, city spokesman Keith Sterling said.
The spray paint decoy operation was a first for the Burbank Police Department, which conducted the operation to tamp down on the steady rate of vandalism throughout the city, Losacco said.
"It's an ongoing problem," Losacco said.
Most of the tagging is not gang related, he added.
Through interviews with teen vandals, police discovered they were getting their spray-painting supplies at home, buying the tools at stores or stealing them, he said.
Police became concerned after learning that local stores had been selling spray-painting supplies to teens under 18, Losacco said.
Some of the eight stores visited during the operation had their paint and etching supplies locked behind glass cases, so teens had to request that a store clerk open them for access.
At other locations, paint and etching supplies were easily accessible on store shelves, Losacco added.
Police detectives plan to conduct a similar operation later this year in an effort to achieve full compliance among the stores, he said.
Residents and business owners can report graffiti to the Graffiti Removal Hotline at (818) 238-3806, or send an e-mail to GraffitiRemoval@ci.burbank.ca.us.
Residents can report information on taggers to the Gang / Graffiti Enforcement Unit at (818) 238-3264.