"It’s funny until it’s not funny anymore." This lettering is emblazoned in rough, black letters on the building of the weissbach dental practice on the town moat. Unknown perpetrators have graffitied several house fronts in the past few weeks. The damage to the dentists alone amounts to a good 2000 euros.
They are no longer laughing: "this is already the fourth or fifth time that the walls have been smeared", the employees of the practice. "It is a pity that people have no respect for other people’s property."
The writing is signed with "rats" (in german: ratten). "This is no longer a prank. They really wanted to destroy something", believe the dentists who suspect a youth gang behind the graffiti.
After all, in the area of the moat were often found youth groups. "On the playground next door, things have also been broken." In addition, according to the dentists, the streetlight in front of the house is currently not working: "they feel even safer in the darkness."
The weissbachs, who co-own the house, had actually wanted to paint over the unwelcome sight for a long time: "but what if the wall is covered in graffiti again a little later?? They are still happy about the beautiful, empty flat area."
The "grease rats have not only gone wild on the dentists’ practice building: "we are currently aware of a total of seven cases of the ‘rats’: from stadtgraben to hussitengasse to burgerspital", confirms the officer in charge of graffiti cases at the kronach police department, who wishes to remain anonymous because he is investigating undercover.
Not only the "rats are repeat offenders: at the school center, a group is up to no good, with writings like "ACAB" (abbreviation for "all cops are bastards") "fuck school" or "take drugs" has spread roughly on the walls of the school.
The busy grease artists have also immortalized themselves on a wall between the kaspar-zeub high school and the vocational school. "Already last year they have caused a damage of 18700 euros", reports the graffiti officer. "And that alone at the school center."
All graffiti there have been removed in the meantime. "But the walls have been smeared twice since then", female police officer. "The janitor is already tired of painting the wall." The school center is sometimes powerless: "it costs thousands of euros to remove the graffiti every time – and there’s no money for other things, such as new sports equipment", a sports teacher finds.
As long as the perpetrators are not identified, the costs must be borne by the property owner, in the case of the school center, the district of kronach. "It’s not that the cost of the graffiti automatically means less money for the school", declares the chamberlain of the district of kronach, gunther daum. "But of course this money is not available to make much more sensible investments."
The police investigation is underway. "Sooner or later such groups occasionally betray themselves", explains the police officer. "Someday we will get them." And that could be expensive if the smear finches – as in the case of the "rats – several graffiti can be assigned. "As a rule, this goes to court", reports the police officer further.
In this case, the perpetrators not only had to pay for the damage caused, but also face criminal charges (see info box). Johannes trankle of the coburg public prosecutor’s office, which is responsible for property damage in the district of kronach, explains: "the range of punishment for property damage basically extends from fines to imprisonment." The extent of the damage caused was also decisive in this respect. "Once the perpetrators have to pay for it, they understand that damage to property is not a trivial offense."
Traffic signs in focus
The city of kronach does not have to deal with wild graffiti at its elementary school, but is currently confronted with another problem: "lately, many of our traffic signs have been defaced with stickers", reports the head of the public order department dieter krapp. "It costs time and money to remove them, because the signs are often destroyed by the cleaning process. It is not very pleasant when the general public is incriminated with it."
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