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Medford graffiti attack

MEDFORD — Hayes Avenue is normally a peaceful street. But residents of the secluded north Medford neighborhood awoke Sunday morning to wall-to-wall graffiti.

Several properties, including a house and some fences, were covered in multicolored letters, numbers and pictures, including profanity.

"I don't recall seeing anything that big in Medford," said Medford police Detective Sgt. Mike Budreau. "It's going to cost thousands of dollars."

Among the hardest hit is a house owned by Jodi and Jim Salyer, where Jodi's mother lived until her death a year ago.

Jodi Salyer said she invested $30,000 into fixing up the vacant house and has been trying to sell it. She said police told her they believe they'll find the vandals, but she doubts she'll recoup the money it will cost to repaint the house.

"I don't really know that I'm going to get compensation, but I would hope so," she said. "Someone needs to be held accountable."

Glenda Owens, who oversees the code enforcement department, said a city ordinance requires property owners to remove graffiti at their own expense within 10 days.

Dorothy DeFrance, whose home faces the Salyer property, looked aghast at the damaged house and neighbors' fences Monday.

"It's terrible. I've never seen it in our neighborhood before," she said, pointing to the defaced properties. "This man back here just put his fence up a month or so ago."

Ernie Whiteman, Medford police department school resource officer, said the graffiti has elements common to both gang members and taggers.

The number 510, which is a telephone area code for California's Bay Area, and the word "Cal," which could represent California, are the kind of graffiti gangs use, he said.

But there are also words such as "Derte" and "Loser," which could be names or nicknames.

"We've never seen those names," he said.

Whiteman, who has worked on many graffiti cases in Medford, said he's surprised neighbors didn't hear the vandals at work, shaking spray paint cans and talking in the middle of the night.

"Some of the paint is double-colored and outlined," he said, adding the vandalism took at least an hour.

Though police have no leads, Whiteman said he anticipates acquaintances of the vandals will come forward.

"You can't do anything this big without bragging about it," he said.

Budreau said the crime, criminal mischief, is a class C felony and the maximum penalty is up to five years in prison and a $125,000 fine.

Reach reporter Meg Landers at 776-4481 or e-mail mlanders@mailtribune.com.

Graffiti covers a house and fences on Hayes Avenue in north Medford. The neighborhood discovered the vandalism Sunday morning. - Jim Craven