A graffiti “artist” has been defacing property at Lakeshore and Murphy for more than two years now, and Brian Joyce has had enough.
The latest vandalism was the roller-painting of his Co-operators insurance sign at 1117 Lakeshore Rd., as well as a brick wall of the Sunripe produce store next door.
“It’s sad because we’ve spent a lot of money to make the place look really nice,” said Joyce, financial advisor at The Co-operators.
“I’m hoping to get this guy caught, and get this guy stopped. It certainly looks like he’s escalating it.”
The graffiti tag “RTX” has appeared on dumpsters, signs and various walls of at least three buildings at the intersection.
Over the past two weeks someone used orange and black paint, paint trays and a long-handled roller to apply “RTX” in letters five feet high at Sunripe, and scaled a ladder to reach the roof and Co-operators sign.
Staff had only recently moved into the insurance building, Joyce said.
“It’s heartbreaking, really, because we’re all really excited and proud of moving over to our new location and things were going really well,” he said.
“My office called the police and they said they wouldn’t come out to investigate because it’s just considered mischief.”
Sarnia Police Const. Chris Moxley has taken to social media in a bid to identify local taggers. He takes photos of graffiti around town and posts it to Facebook and Twitter with requests for information.
Moxley told The Journal he would visit Joyce’s business to shoot and post the latest vandalism.
“I’d love to catch whoever is doing that one,” he said.
Social media exposure recently helped Moxley find two 19-year-olds in Bright’s Grove, who were given anti-graffiti solvent to erase their handiwork there. Both were remorseful, he said.
“I said to the one guy, “I want every RTX out there to be gone.’ And he goes, ‘Well, I’m not the only one out there (tagging with RTX).’”
The acronym is believed to stand for Real Talent Exceeds. Another common local tag, SVS, apparently stands for Sarnia Vandalism Squad.
Overall, graffiti isn’t a big problem in Sarnia right now, and even the downtown area is cleaner than it was, Moxley said.
“It isn’t like London with the gangs, which is where you get a lot of tagging. But it is annoying and it is frustrating.”
Moxley said the difference between taggers and true street artists is permission.
“They’re terrible if you ask me. RTX? Who can’t do RTX?” he asked.
“Picasso could paint all the buildings downtown, but if he doesn’t have permission it’s still graffiti.”
Anyone with information can contact Sarnia police 519-344-8861 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.
– George Mathewson