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Costa Mesa to offer up to $2,000 reward for vandalism tips

wall paintCOSTA MESA Police could begin offering rewards of up to $2,000 for tips that lead to the arrest of people suspected of vandalizing property in the city.

The proposed policy, which received tentative approval Tuesday from the City Council, will expand upon a city policy that has for decades allowed Costa Mesa police to offer up to a $2,000 reward for helping to solve graffiti crimes.

The new law is expected to be drafted and formally voted on in the coming weeks; it would apply to both public and private property.

The city initially drafted the law to apply only to public property, but council members on Tuesday called for broader application.

“If we’re going to do it on public property, we should do it on private property,” city Councilman Steve Mensinger said during Tuesday’s meeting.

The law would give the city’s police chief discretion to decide if and how much to award to a tipster who helps police apprehend a suspect.

The city would seek to recoup the reward’s cost from the suspected vandal, or from his parents if he’s a minor, according to a city report.

City Councilwoman Sandra Genis said Tuesday she was concerned some residents might want the reward policy invoked every time a car window is smashed. But she added that she supported the law in the wake of a high-profile vandalism incident last month in Costa Mesa.

On Feb. 23, 31 cars parked in a residential neighborhood near South Coast Plaza were found spray-painted with smiley faces, lines and the words “ha ha,” according to police. An American flag and lighting fixtures also had been spray-painted.


(Photo by: Sam Gangwer, staff photographer)

By Scott Martindale /

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