COACHELLA, Calif. - The city of Coachella filed a civil lawsuit Tuesday against two families; the parents of three minors who were caught tagging public restrooms in the city with graffiti.
The children are 8, 10 and 14 years old, two of them are siblings.
"This is a group of children who tagged regularly. We established 19 different locations they had damaged," said city manager David Garcia.
The 19 taggings, some explicit, were spray painted between April 2, 2013 and April 19 of this year. They cost the city an estimated $6,130 to clean up.
Under a new city policy, the minor's parents, Besna Sanchez, Rafael Sandoval and Elizabeth Sandoval, could be liable for $25,000 per tagging, plus attorney fees and city costs.
"It is rare we actually catch juveniles in the act," said Lt. Misty Reynolds, of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department. "We plan to do something about it. This is not acceptable. It will not be tolerated."
"The message that we're sending is parents need to be responsible for their children," said Garcia. "If they fail to do that and their children damage property, they're going to be accountable for that directly, financially."
Garcia hopes the lawsuit will help clean up the city and paint a brighter picture of the city.
"Graffiti affects property values. It affects the perception of the community and it damages people's property. We take it seriously and we need to control it," Garcia said.
If you see graffiti or if your property is targeted you can call the Coachella graffiti hotline 1-888-600-6250 or visit www.coachella.org.