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Graffiti taggers caught in act

MABTON - An alert passer-by driving through town this past Tuesday afternoon called the police after spotting three juveniles spray painting graffiti in the heart of downtown at Mike's Machine Shop.

At the time, only Interim Police Chief Robert Perales was in the station when the call came in at 3:20 p.m. He responded to the call. "I pretty much caught them in the act and they ran from me," he said.

The teens, two 16-year-olds and a 17-year-old, ran into an apartment. Perales knocked on the door and was granted permission to come in and look for the suspects. He said the hallway in the apartment was long and it was dark. During his search of the bathroom, one suspect jumped out from behind a shower curtain. A brief scuffle ensued and he said another suspect jumped in the scuffle. "As this is happening, I'm yelling for help," Perales said.

Perales managed to cuff the first two suspects and then had to go back in and find the third. He did, hiding under blankets.

Perales said there's been a significant spike in graffiti over the past several days, including tagging at the park, in alleyways, the water tower, apartment complex building and the post office.

He said the tagging appears to be gang related.

The juveniles will be charged with malicious mischief, although it's currently under investigation as to what degree.

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