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Graffiti like this has become a common sight this summer on walls and other surfaces around downtown Farmington.

Police arrest suspected downtown Farmington vandals

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crime and courts Hastings,Minnesota 55033 http://www.hastingsstargazette.com/sites/default/files/styles/square_300/public/fieldimages/13/0613/web-graffiti-colorwavh.jpg?itok=OPqoNXlu
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Police arrest suspected downtown Farmington vandals
Hastings Minnesota 745 Spiral Boulevard 55033

A sign in the Depot Way Arts Park currently declares, "We Own Downtown." It's signed, "The Downtown Boyz."

Apparently, the so-called "Downtown Boyz" are a handful of teenagers who have been getting a little too creative with spray paint around downtown Farmington. And for at least a few, their creative streak should be just about over.

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Farmington police have identified three juvenile males as some of the creative culprits scrawling graffiti on buildings and artwork in the art park. The three have been linked to "a good percentage" of the vandalism that's surfaced around the city this summer, according to Farmington police detective sergeant Lee Hollatz.

Hollatz said there is more graffiti around downtown than there has been in the past. A couple of weeks ago, someone spray painted sections on the south side of city hall. Black lettering jumps out from the cream-colored walls on the former Burger King building. There are marks on silos at Feely Elevator. About a half dozen paintings in the art park have been marked up.

The three individuals may well have done enough property damage that they could each face felony charges, Hollatz said.

"I'm still waiting for the estimates to come in on the damages," he said. "I won't be sure until the businesses and the people bring them in to give us the amount."

Graffiti isn't just happening downtown, either, Hollatz said. Some vandalism has been reported at locations on the north end of town, but it's not nearly as much as what has been reported downtown.

Typically, the kids are placing graffiti on buildings and in parks and public areas. It's not something that usually happens in housing developments, Hollatz said. For one thing, there are too many neighbors watching their neighborhoods; for another, housing developments do not provide the public visibility the graffiti artists seek.

That drives them to areas like downtown, where there are lots of dark nooks and crannies, and not a lot of people to see them at night. Or so the kids thought.

The three graffiti artists Hollatz has identified were picked up on surveillance video. While Hollatz won't disclose where the cameras are located, he said Farmington has several posted around the downtown area.

Even though Hollatz was able to identify three of the kids who have been defacing property, he knows there are still more out there. That's why he's looking for help from residents.

"It's helpful if people call in when they see something suspicious. Give us a call. We see this as a problem. It's a nuisance to the city. No one wants to see this type of stuff around their town. It makes the town look shabby," Hollatz said.

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