October 21, 2021

City graffiti becoming a problem

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Pawn Boss owner John Mercurio and his daughter Chelsea Mercurio view the vandalism to their business on Main Street in Cortland on Thursday.

It started showing up over the past 10 days. First black and then dark blue. It was on downtown businesses, in city parks and even on traffic light control boxes. The culprit — graffiti.

Most of the graffiti seen so far has been words, most of which can’t be read; however, there is one word that can be deciphered — “Rush,” said city police Lt. David Guerrera. “It’s not fancy artwork,” he said.

The graffiti has been popping up all around the city, primarily downtown, Guerrera said.

Some has been at Cortland County Community Action Program Inc. at 32 N. Main St., Pawn Boss at 16 Main St. and on signs and poles downtown. Other markings have popped up at the Riverside Plaza, St. Mary’s School at 61 N. Main St., Suggett Park on Homer Avenue and Beaudry Park on Scammell Street. “We’ve probably have had 15 different locations,” Guerrera said. “With some repeats.”

At one Main Street business a reward is being offered to anyone who helps lead to whoever vandalized the side of the store. John Mercurio, owner of Pawn Boss, said graffiti has appeared three times on his business. “We’ve cleaned it up twice,” he said.

Mercurio said he will offer $100 in store credit as a reward.

It’s not just Pawn Boss. Mercurio has noticed the same type of graffiti while driving throughout the city.

Right now the police do not have any leads or a suspect in mind. However, they do think it is one person, Guerrera said. “We have zero suspects right now,” he said.

When the graffiti first appeared, it was black spray paint. The most recent ones however have been a dark blue, Guerrera said.

Most of the graffiti has happened during the overnight hours, Guerrera said. The city police have been combing through video footage obtained from their downtown cameras. “It’s tough to nail down a timeline,” Guerrera said.

He said graffiti would be classified under a criminal mischief charge which is normally a misdemeanor, depending on the cost. Damage done would have to add to $1,000 or more for the charge to reach a felony level, Guerrera said.

Anyone with information is asked to call city police at 607-753-3001, ext. 0.