Kansas City police hold sting operation to stop spray paint sales to minors

KANSAS CITY, Missouri - Some store clerks in Kansas City were caught with spray paint on their face.

According to The Kansas City Star, police launched a sting operation last Thursday to catch anyone selling a can to someone under age 17. 

Police admit the law isn't well known and has not ever been enforced.  But because the city is facing a growing graffiti problem, they decided it's time to start raising awareness and eventually fining people.  Other cities and states across the nation have similar ordinances and laws.

Police put together three teams who worked with three undercover juveniles to visit 15 t stores in the East Patrol Division.

Eleven of the 15 clerks sold paint to the teens.  Instead of tickets, police issued warnings and informational pamphlets. The officers also gave store managers signs that explain the law.

Police say some stores, including the Advance Auto Parts on Truman Road, keep their spray paint behind the counter.  That store was one of the few that refused to sell to an undercover juvenile during the sting.

The store's cash register system reportedly reminds clerks to ask a customer if they are 17 or older when buying spray paint. 

At two stores, the clerks asked for ID, but miscalculated the teen's age and sold the undercover agent spray paint anyway.

Police are urging clerks to create a system to calculate ages quickly. 

Police said they may hold another sting later this year.  During that sting, violators will most likely be ticketed anywhere from $500 to $1,000.  Under the ordinance, it's also a violation for a person under age 17 to buy or possess spray paint without adult supervision.

The city council originally passed the ordinance to stop "huffing," where youths inhale aerosol fumes to get high. Police discovered the ordinance recently when they were researching ways to combat graffiti.

Graffiti costs homeowners, business owners and the city thousands of dollars each year to clean up.

Police said "tagger" graffiti, where people leave their mark to gain status, is the most common in Kansas City.

But there is also gang graffiti, where members mark their turf,  hate graffiti, which often puts down someone's race or ethnicity; and generic graffiti, which isn't typically offensive but just as expensive to remove.




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