In the spirit of Halloween in the crime fighting world, an artistic jack-o'-lantern has led police to an alleged graffiti tagger.
According to police in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, a man's decorations on a pumpkin were eerily similar to graffiti found on several properties in town, The Associated Press reports.
Bo Wenger, 22, allegedly admitted to tagging the buildings and was arrested Wednesday. He now faces a charge of felony criminal mischief.
Vandalism in Colorado
Vandalism refers to the act of destroying or defacing someone else's property without permission. Examples of vandalism include acts such as breaking windows, spray-painting a vehicle, a park bench, or the side of a building.
Vandalism is illegal, though some states may refer to it as "criminal damage," "malicious trespass," or, in Colorado's case, "criminal mischief."
In Colorado, a person is found guilty of criminal mischief when he knowingly damages someone else's real or personal property (or the vandal's own property, if someone else has a proprietary interest in it -- for example, a shared home).
Felony v. Misdemeanor
So why was Wenger charged with felony criminal mischief?
The difference between a misdemeanor and a felony offense is usually based on severity -- for example, stealing a pack of gum v. stealing a car.
In this case, Colorado's criminal mischief statute categorizes the level of severity by the amount of monetary damage inflicted on the property. If the damage amounts to less than $1,000, it's classified as a misdemeanor. Anything more than that is a felony.
Because Wenger reportedly tagged several buildings, police say the damages amount to more than $1,000.
The local newspaper, Steamboat Today, posted a picture of Wenger's alleged vandalism -- graffiti that seems to spell out a word of some sort. Let's hope police took a picture of the allegedly incriminating jack-o'-lantern, before the evidence rots away.
- Graffiti Artist May Have Been Done In By Pumpkin (NPR)
- Calif. Man Arrested for Painting Crosswalk on City Street (FindLaw's Legal Grounds)
- Are Oakland's Gnomes Art or Unlawful Graffiti? (FindLaw's Legal Grounds)
- Graffiti Grandpa Vandalized Fla. Streets for 6 Years (FindLaw's Legally Weird)