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Sheriff's deputies investigating graffiti at a San Diego County courthouse didn't have too look far to find their suspect. The prolific alleged tagger had been in court just two months earlier facing charges of -- you guessed it -- vandalism.
Francisco Canseco, 18, was arrested again last week, after officers obtained a search warrant for his San Diego home and found graffiti-related supplies that linked him to the courthouse vandalism, reports KNSD-TV. Canseco allegedly tagged several areas inside the courthouse, including the courtroom where his case was being heard.
How exactly were authorities able to link Canseco to the courthouse graffiti?
Canseco was reportedly tracked down using Graffiti Tracker, an online database used by law enforcement and public-works departments to track and catch taggers.
Graffiti Tracker allows users to upload pictures of graffiti, which are then cataloged and mapped by analysts who also link the graffiti to known gangs or other groups. The company's website reports that it has analyzed 4 million images to date and has assisted law enforcement with arresting more than 3,700 suspected vandals.
In Canseco's case, he allegedly incorporated a unique moniker in his graffiti, which is how investigators say they linked the courthouse graffiti to Canseco's known works. While news reports do not elaborate on this alleged moniker, you can bet that Canseco's criminal defense lawyer will want to take a very close look.
Vandalism is the legal term used to describe a wide variety of destructive acts against another person's property: breaking someone's windows, keying someone's car, or spray-painting your name on a wall (or in this case, courthouse). Vandalism can be typically be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony.
On top of his prior vandalism charges, Canseco is now facing five new felonies for his alleged courthouse vandalism. Under the California Penal Code, a felony vandalism conviction can be punished by up to three years in jail and up to $50,000 in fines, depending on the severity of the property damage. Convicted vandals also may be required to repair or replace the property vandalized, or perform graffiti clean-up services in the community.
Canseco's next court date is Wednesday, but reports don't indicate if he'll be assigned to the same courtroom he allegedly tagged.