March 5, 2013

Sheriff’s Office paints out graffiti in the Upper Keys


The Sheriff’s Office used a group of jail inmates this past weekend to remove graffiti in Key Largo. Detention Center Lt. Patrick Major painted over the unsightly vandalism, located on a concrete wall at Key Largo Mini-Storage at the 99 mile marker of the highway using a group of his inmates. Lt. Major frequently takes them out on the weekend to perform various community projects.

In a separate Upper Keys effort, the Sheriff’s Office worked with Monroe County Public Works and Florida Keys Electric Coop to have graffiti removed from a number of areas on Card Sound Road and State Road 905. Vandals painted electric poles, street signs, garbage containers and other locations at the end of January leaving many unsightly areas that needed to be cleaned up.

Sheriff Rick Ramsay encourages his staff to pay close attention to “quality of life” issues. This year, a number of area clean ups have been done including one last Friday at 15th Street in Marathon. Other clean ups are already planned for the Upper and Lower Keys in coming months. By working to keep the community clean, he hopes to inspire community members to take pride in their neighborhoods and keep them that way.

“Clean neighborhoods inspire people to care and people who care will pay more attention to what is happening around them,” said Sheriff Ramsay. “By keeping neighborhoods clean – towing abandoned cars, picking up trash and painting out graffiti – we believe we will see a corresponding decrease in crime in those areas,” he said.

“If we can take care of the big things that may seem overwhelming to residents, then we hope those people who are invested in the community – who live, work and have families there -  will take up the ball, so to speak, and run with it.”

Graffiti on Card Sound Road and SR 905
Graffiti on Card Sound Road and SR 905
The Broken Window Theory, which has been around since the early 1980s, postulates if a house has a broken window not repaired right away, soon it will have more broken windows, potentially leading to  someone breaking in, burglarizing the house or squatting in it. Another example put forth in the theory is a sidewalk where some litter accumulates, soon attracting more litter. People get the idea that is all right to dump trash there and begin to bring in larger items, such as bags of garbage, abandoned vehicles, larger pieces of debris. This deterioration of a neighborhood encourages vandalism, and larger crimes such as burglary and drug related crimes.

The theory holds that if the broken window is repaired right away – or the litter is picked up and not allowed to accumulate, then a neighborhood is less likely to see the larger crimes occur. The theory says when people take pride in their neighborhoods – and join in the effort to keep them clean and in good repair – crime and violence will not have a chance to take root.

The Sheriff has encouraged his district captains to identify areas that need attention, and to organize activities to improve those areas. Anyone who has a concern about a neighborhood, or a suggestion about an area that might need help can contact their local Sheriff’s substation.

Anyone who knows anything about who may have painted the graffiti in the Upper Keys, or anywhere in the Keys for that matter, should contact the Sheriff’s Office. The amount of graffiti and the damage done constitutes a felony crime. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a Crime Stoppers tip leads to an arrest, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may be submitted on line at

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