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Rogers Jewelers sign defaced with derogatory word

Vandals could face misdemeanors or felonies depending on damage, police sergeant says
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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An Auburn billboard was spreading a very different message Monday. A CBS Outdoor billboard located just outside the American River Canyon at Highway 49 and Lincoln Way holds an advertisement for Rogers Jewelry Co. in Sacramento. The ad originally read OMG, for Oh My God, with a photograph of a diamond ring representing the O. Underneath the letters is written “Sacramento’s largest selection.” As of Monday someone had used spray paint to change the G and add an h and s to the sign, leaving it to read HOMOS. Monday afternoon the Auburn Police Department said it had not received any reports about the sign. Guy Cables, owner of Sierra Outdoor Center on Lincoln Way near the sign, said there has been ongoing graffiti in the area. Cables said there has been graffiti in several places including on the Union Pacific Railroad overpass at Highway 49 and Lincoln Way as well as on the back of a tin building located near his store. Cables said the defacing doesn’t seem to be happening more frequently. “It’s been going on for awhile,” he said. “I don’t see it getting any worse or any better.” Others have also witnessed the billboard when it was an advertisement for Bay Alarm and said “Bay Alarm: Making thievery a lost art.” After graffiti the ad read, “Bay Alarm: Making thievery an art.” “I think I saw that,” Cables said when asked about the former advertisement. “It’s probably some kids in the neighborhood is my guess, just having fun. I doubt if Rogers or CBS think it’s very funny. They spend a lot of money on those things.” CBS Outdoor was unavailable for comment Monday. Jason Holt, owner of Holt’s Auto Body on Lincoln Way, said he hadn’t noticed the sign before and hasn’t heard any complaints from customers. Holt said he does know of a history of graffiti in the area. “I just know the people who had the building before us used to have to repaint the back of the building here. We haven’t had anything yet, but I know it has a history of happening,” he said. Bernie Schroeder, director of the Auburn Public Works Department, said because the billboard is privately owned, the Auburn Police Department would be notifying the owner to let them know about the graffiti and request they clean it up. Schroeder said Public Works has responded to some graffiti by the train trestle, but if it’s near the top, it is taken care of by the Union Pacific Railroad. It costs the city a couple hundred dollars each time Public Works does respond to clean up graffiti, Schroeder said. Schroeder said Public Works has not been notified about graffiti on the CBS billboard before, and that particular area does not seem to have a huge amount of graffiti. Schroeder said citizens can help the city keep down the defacements by reporting any graffiti as soon as possible. “Our city has so many … eyes and ears, and so when graffiti does come about, or is brought to our attention, we usually find out about it pretty quickly and take care of it,” she said. “That’s really how you minimize it.” Sgt. Dale Hutchins, with the Auburn Police Department, said the department hasn’t received any reports about either graffitied advertisement on the sign. Hutchins said this area is not one of those hit most hard by graffiti. The department does what it can to keep these incidents down, he said. “We have the ability, depending on the severity and the frequency, of putting up surveillance equipment,” Hutchins said. “But if it’s just hit-and-miss — extra patrol, notify the day shift and the night shift and pay more attention to that area. Of course we notify the owner of the property, and it’s there responsibility to clean up the graffiti.” Hutchins said charges for the crime can depend on how much damage is done. “In the last couple years we have arrested several people for graffiti violations,” he said. “If the damage to the property is $400 or more, that could be considered a felony. It’s what we call a wobbler, it could go either way. Under $400 is a misdemeanor. Ten-thousand dollars or more is a felony and of course … if the vandal is a juvenile, the parents can be held financially liable for it.” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com