There's been a rash of vandalism in Williamson County. Police think its young gang kids. The vandalism is focused in downtown Taylor. These people are tagging and slashing cars, leaving their mark on county and government offices and churches. Authorities are beefing up security before things get worse.
One, after another, after another.
"It had the word Crip, which stands for the Crip affiliation. Then 74 was below that, designating the last two numbers in the zip code," said Chief Deputy Mark Birchard, Office of Constable Marty Ruble.
Three separate vandalism events within a two month span.
"The courts in general and law enforcement are always kind of set up to have that retaliation type mentality. It's not usual for Judge Hobbs Office to have something left outside, or in this case, their building was tagged also. You have to remember she's hearing a lot of these juvenile cases," said Birchard.
Chief Deputy Mark Birchard says it's the same thing for the Office of Constable Marty Ruble since they also have juvenile services and adult probation, making them a more likely target. Right now they are focusing on suspects that are middle school to college-aged, those that could have gang affiliation.
"Because the adult age starts at 17, what they're doing is going to get these kids that are 13 or 14. Once they get to adult age, their record gets wiped out," said Birchard.
There were six vehicles that had their tires slashed in front of the Taylor Annex. The cost to fix that was around $4,000, not including the cost to clean-up the tagging around town.
"It could be anywhere up to a felony offense depending on the amount that it costs to remove the graffiti. If they do it on a place of worship, that's an enhanced penalty," said Taylor Police Department Commander Don Georgens.
Besides the Taylor Annex and Judge Hobbs Office, the Post Office and two churches were tagged. Norma Wade noticed the graffiti while walking by New Hope Church. She's concerned this could lead to a bigger problem.
"It could expand, and then you begin to wonder about your property. What else are they going to hit and what else are they going to do? You wonder if they are dangerous or not dangerous. I believe it was explained to me that they were younger but you don't know. You don't know who they are affiliated with and you want to feel safe in your neighborhood," said Norma Wade, a resident.
Something authorities want to maintain as well. They say most gangs in Taylor are not interested in violent crimes unless they get challenged.
An assessment by the Texas Department of Public Safety shows there are more than 4,600 gangs in the state. They are broken up into three tiers depending on the threat they pose, tier 1 being the most severe.
The Crips are in tier 2. Data shows that more than half of prison gang members associated with the top two tiers are serving time for a violent crime; including robbery, homicide, and assault/terroristic threat.
Authorities have no leads yet. They are asking for the public's help. If you see anyone tagging, slashing cars or looking suspicious you're asked to call the constable's office at 512-352-4181. You can remain anonymous.