Graffiti is painting, etching, covering or placing a mark on private or public property. The most common type of graffiti in Ottawa is called “tagging,” which is the repetitive writing or painting of a word, name or symbol. A small percentage of graffiti could also be gang-related, hate-based, political or profane.
Graffiti is a crime when it is placed on private or public property without the owner’s permission. The presence of graffiti in a neighbourhood can make the area seem run-down and can make residents feel unsafe. Learn more about City of Ottawa-Graffiti Program
How to report graffiti
- If your property has been vandalized with graffiti, or if you see hate-related graffiti, call the Ottawa Police Service at 613-236-1222.
- If you find graffiti on public property, call the City of Ottawa at 3-1-1.
- If you see graffiti vandalism happening, it is considered a crime in progress and can be reported by calling 9-1-1.
- If you wish to report graffiti vandalism anonymously, call Crime Stoppers at 613-233-TIPS (8477).
How to help remove graffiti
The best way to reduce the spread of graffiti is to remove it as quickly as possible. Graffiti artists tend to get discouraged when their hard work is erased quickly.
Women’s Initiatives for Safer Environments has a graffiti removal program for youth to engage them in beautifying the city. For more information, visit their website.
How to prevent graffiti
As a property owner, you can prevent graffiti.
- Plant vines or shrubs around buildings to prevent access to walls
- Increase lighting and add motion sensing lights to draw attention to any movement around your property
- Move vehicles, dumpsters or other things away from walls to prevent access to walls and roofs of buildings
- Use a graffiti repellent to protect surfaces
- Encourage neighbours to look out for each other’s properties
If you own a business, contact your local Business Improvement Area (BIA) to ask for more advice on how to deal with graffiti.
Some communities have benefited from the Paint It Up! program. A partnership between Crime Prevention Ottawa and the City of Ottawa, it provides funding to help prevent graffiti and beautify neighbourhoods.
What to do if your child is involved in graffiti
Under the Parental Responsibility Act, you are financially responsible for property loss, damage or destruction caused by your child under the age of 18.
If you suspect that your child is involved in graffiti, talk about it. Your child might be involved in graffiti if you find materials such as:
- Etching acid
- Shoe polish containers
- Spray paint cans
- Graffiti tags on clothing, school books or backpacks
You can help your child express creativity in more positive ways:
- Enroll them in art classes
- Encourage them to get involved in or work on design projects
- Encourage them to get involved with school and community activities
Explain to your child that graffiti on public or private property is illegal, disrespectful and can have serious consequences.