A recent operation by the Orange County Sheriff's Department in Lake Forest targeting local taggers netted three arrests and 10 citations, a department spokesman said.
A spike in graffiti on Father's Day eve confirmed the need for such an operation, which had already been in the planning stages because of rising costs associated with graffiti removal. Lake Forest paid more than $126,000 in 2011.
"We were hit hard," Deputy Rich Nelson said.
In response, the department put together a team of deputies, reserve deputies, probation officers and volunteers to patrol the areas of Lake Forest hit hardest by vandalism from 6 p.m. on June 30 to 2 a.m. July 1.
"We're trying to get the message out that vandalizing private and public property will not be tolerated," Nelson said.
Patrols canvassed from Rockfield Boulevard to Jeronimo Road, between Los Alisos Boulevard and Lake Forest Drive.
Deputies walked eight city parks, which close at sunset, to ensure they were empty. They also spent time checking local schools that have been hit with graffiti in the past.
"We're taking a proactive approach to the graffiti problem," Nelson said. "We want taggers to know that they will be arrested and we will seek restitution."
Of the three people arrested during the eight-hour patrol, two were alleged gang members with outstanding warrants, he said. The third was for violation of a restraining order, in place because of domestic violence.
Citations were issued for drug paraphenalia, violating curfew and resisting arrest.
Nelson said that some parents are unaware that they can be cited if their children are found violating the city's 11 p.m curfew. They can also end up .
The June 30 operation was the first of a trio of such operations scheduled this summer aimed at reducing vandalism, graffiti, trespassing and curfew violations, Nelson said.