Graffiti cleanup effort underway in Reading

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Watch the report from Walter Perez on Action News at 4:30 p.m. on February 19, 2018. (WPVI)

There is a major cleanup effort underway in Reading, Berks County.

Officials say their initiative involves clearing out alleys, sprucing up public property, and tackling a big problem in the city - graffiti.

"Another big one is the graffiti cleanup that we have here in the city," said Reading Public Works Director Ralph Johnson. "We are working hard to curb that, but it is a difficult situation."

Johnson says the primary problems are the sheer volume of graffiti and the difficulty of finding the people responsible.

Maria Marte is especially frustrated. She owns La Seybana Bakery on Oley Street.

Cell phone video shows the last time she arrived to open up shop, only to find the entire outside wall covered in spray paint.

And Marte says this happens every few weeks.

"I can't have it. I'm trying to run a business and I spend half my life painting and cleaning the outside. It's frustrating," Marte said.

Now, she does the work herself because she wants to maintain a specific color scheme around her shop. But the city's cleanup program includes painting over graffiti or power washing. City officials say they try their best to match the existing paint on the walls, but admit that it can be difficult.

Action News spoke with a few people around town who say they are tired of looking at the work of vandals.

"It kind of detracts from the city. It makes it look a lot less professional looking," says Bill Carlson.

"I don't think parents teach their kids morals or respect for property or people anymore," said Reading resident Christine White.

Officials are asking residents to report any graffiti they find in their neighborhood through the official city app, or by calling the Public Works Department (1-877-727-3234) to help them stay on top of it the best they can.

You can download the City of Reading iRequest app here: https://www.readingpa.gov/

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