Here’s How Not To Get Arrested For Graffiti in NYC


Whether or not you’re a graffitist, street artist, noxious fume enthusiast, “building beautifier” or whatever you want to call it, we think it’s handy to have a healthy grasp on how not to get caught by the cops when what you’re doing isn’t really that bad. This is not only beneficial for you, obviously, but as we all know: “there is plenty of real crime vying for the NYPD’s attention.”

Because someone had to, Animal New York rounded up all the ways to not end up in handcuffs while you’re graffit-ing. Besides common sense (use a lookout that “doesn’t look like a fucking criminal,” have a basic plan and “refrain from bringing weed”), the author (anonymously written by “The Law”) points out a few particularly interesting tidbits that aren’t necessarily self-evident to the casual street artist. For one, it’s better to choose a building that’s privately owned, since the police will first have to track down the owner of the property before they can charge you with graffiti. And what’s best is to adorn an already-shitty-looking building with your graffiti so that—should it come to this—your lawyer can argue that you haven’t done any damage to it because it was sufficiently shitty-looking to begin with.

Some helpful pointers for dealing with the po-po: If your lookout gives the signal, leave your contraband immediately and run, if you can. If police see paint, they’ll have probable cause to search you, which basically means you’re screwed: “Under no circumstances consent to them looking in your bag.”

Perhaps the most unfortunate rule of all, however, is the double-edged sword of that beautiful beast, Instagram, “which has become quite an invaluable too for the Vandal Squad.” While your profile can certainly give you the notoriety and credit you deserve, leave it to passersby to ‘gram your art—otherwise, it’ll only end up in court. Read the full guide here.

Follow Rebecca Jennings on Twitter @rebexxxxa.

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