It's not art, it's vandalism.
That was the message from Phoenix mayor Greg Stanton on Tuesday, as the city kicked off the third annual Graffiti Free Phoenix Awareness month.
The program encourages residents to join the city's effort to keep the city graffiti free, and provides free paint and supplies for those who want to get involved in community clean-up events.
It's a multi-million dollar problem in Phoenix with taxpayers footing the bill for clean up.
Nationwide, Stanton said it was a $13 billion problem. He added the blight decreased property values and increased crime in neighborhoods.
Reginald High, the foreman for Graffiti Busters, said his crews worked 10-hour shifts, 7 days a week to clean up graffiti within 24 hours after it was reported.
Getting to it quickly was key to keeping the vandals away.
Every day, his crews were responsible for cleaning up between 40 and 60 trashed sites, and High had a strong message for vandals.
"To let them know we're here. We're not going away. We have more paint, more supplies. A lot more than what you have. Tag what you want, we'll be there as soon as possible to remove it," said High.
If you see graffiti happening, call 911 or Crime Stop at 602-262-6151. You can also call Graffiti Busters for removal at 602-534-4444, or report it online at Phoenix at Your Service .
City officials said Phoenix was now a role model worldwide for its efforts in combating graffiti. Several countries had visited the area to look into the program.