Winton Residents Restricted from Graffiti Clean-Up

WINTON, Calif. The couple says they've seen a growing graffiti problem in their town, especially on many mailboxes. They'd be happy to tackle the tagging themselves ... but it's against the law.

Anthony and Sherry Pitchford say the graffiti in their Winton neighborhood has gotten out of control in recent months.

They say Merced County's Graffiti Abatement Team has done its best to cover up the recurring spray paint, and they and their children have personally painted over some of the profanity on the walls near their home and school.

Pitchford said, "My six-year-old said he didn't like the bad words on the wall and asked what he could do and I said he had to repaint it, explaining to him it's not your punishment, it's community service, it's a positive thing of what you're doing."

But when Sherry asked the local postmaster if she could have a letter granting the family permission to paint over the graffiti that covers several mailboxes in the area, she says her request was denied.

"I asked her, so as postmaster you're telling me there's nothing you can do and she said there's nothing we can do," said Pitchford.

The Winton postmaster could not comment on the issue, but a spokesperson for the postal service says it is illegal for residents to paint the federal property. He also told Action News it's the agency's responsibility to maintain the boxes, but keeping up with the constant graffiti can be very difficult. The Sheriff's Office says it's tried to crack down on taggers, and has made six arrests in the northern part of the county in the recent weeks, but hundreds of vandals are still hard at work.

Deputy Tom MacKenzie said, "We do address it and we do it the best we can, but with limited manpower and resources it's a losing battle."

So for now the Pitchford's are left feeling frustrated.

The post office spokesperson tells me a work order has been placed for the mailbox graffiti in the Winton area. But he says usually once the boxes are painted over, it doesn't take long for the taggers to strike again.

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