Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

Last week I saw some nasty-looking graffiti near my mailbox. I
thought about covering it with black spray paint but ignored it. Denial
was not a good choice, it turns out. Today I woke up and someone had
maliciously unscrewed a bottle of “Not Tonight Deer” (a foul smelling
concoction that saves roses and other living things from becoming
deer food) all over my front porch. It’s hard to imagine a raccoon
committed enough to unscrew something I always keep tightly sealed.
I cleaned up but I am concerned. When I walked my block I saw one
to two other houses with similar genitalia type graffiti, but they are not
neighbors I know. This seems small to involve the police but I am a
single elderly female. Also I am on good terms with all my neighbors
and this is not a gang-oriented neighborhood, though there has been
more graffiti in the bus-stop etc areas.


Dear Threatened:

Whether this is directed personally at you or not, you should definitely
not count on denial to solve the problem. Talk to your neighbors and
see if any of them have had any problems. Walk your block to see
which, if any, other homes have been tagged. Usually an upswing in
graffiti means a shift in gang activity in your neighborhood. Sometimes
it is a passing thing; others it can mean they are settling in. Petty acts
of crime can be theft or vandalism, but in either case they are
considered criminal mischief and are always unsettling.

Call your local police and ask them to look at the graffiti. The specific
visuals may mean something more to them than to you. Ask them if it
is okay to cover it over with street-colored spray paint, so that the
“victim lives here” mark is removed. Ask what cues would have them
patrol the area more regularly. If you have neighbors with dogs that
might bark in the night, ask them to call for a patrol when they do. If
the acts continue, install motion sensor lights and perhaps a camera,
and an alarm system if you do not already have one. If all else fails,
get a dog. Folks with alarms and dogs are less likely to be hassled.