APD charge two with graffiti-related offenses

Photo by J.D. Sumner

Photo by J.D. Sumner

ALBANY, Ga. -- Two men believed responsible for spray-painting a swath of northwest Albany businesses with graffiti over the last two months have been arrested, Albany Police officials say.

Calvin Benton, 20, and Alexander Delarosa, 21, have been arrested on multiple charges ranging from criminal damage to property to interference with government property, Lt. Tony Moore said at a Friday press conference.

The graffiti doesn't appear to be gang-related, Moore said, and instead their tags "Coma" and "Sense" appear to have been an homage to the duo's musical tastes.

"If you look at some punk rock groups, one happens to be named 'Coma' and another one 'Sense'," Moore said.

It's been a frustrating year for business owners who have repeatedly been targeted by graffiti "taggers" who spray walls, sidewalks and Dumpsters.

But police officials say a break in the case came when Detective Schemika Foster took a detailed tip from the Crimestoppers hotline following a series of public service and media announcements.

That lead, combined with what Chief John Proctor called "good police work," would eventually lead investigators to the duo who were arrested this week.

Police said Benton was the first to be arrested Tuesday, while Delarosa, a member of the Georgia National Guard, was arrested Thursday.

Ward IV Albany City Commissioner Roger Marietta, who was at the press conference Friday, said he hopes the charges against the pair stick and that it sends a message to others who are defacing public and private property.

"I hope the felony counts are prosecuted," said Marietta, in whose ward many of the businesses that police believe were targeted are located. "I know these were significant problems for businesses and cost a lot of money to clean up."

The commission voted last month to adopt a new graffiti ordinance that requires business owners vandalized by graffiti artists to remove the paint within five days or have the city and volunteers from Keep Albany-Dougherty County Beautiful remove it.

Moore said the two men arrested felt what they were doing was art rather than vandalism.