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      Jefferson City business owners burdened with vandalism expenses

      Cleaning graffiti like this in Jefferson City has been costly for business owners.

      Spray-painted symbols and phrases cover alleys, roofs, and even utility boxes in the downtown area of Jefferson City. It's becoming a repeated problem for business owners, as well as law enforcement.

      "Really what this is is a constant nuisance to the business owners downtown. They're responsible for removing the graffiti or whatever else happens to their business by city ordinance and it becomes an expensive nuisance, you know, and that's one of the key issues I think that probably concerns the downtown business persons," said Captain Doug Shoemaker of the Jefferson City Police Department.

      Captain Shoemaker said the police department relies on the help of the public to watch for signs of trouble, but it's difficult to catch a suspect in the act.

      Fortunately, a quick call from a witness led police last week to catch two people with paint, markers and signs.

      If convicted the pair could eventually pay for the damage, but first business owners will pay to clean it up.

      Sam Bushman owns Samuel's on High Street and another property on Dunklin Street.

      He's paid several hundred dollars to clean up three times at his downtown store as well as 3 more times at the Dunklin property over the last couple of years. He said the damage brings down the pristine image of the area.

      "We're proud of our downtown, we're proud of Jefferson City. Because, it's not just downtown, and it really makes it...Uh, we don't look that good. And i want people to think highly of Jefferson City and our downtown, and to me this is just not acceptable."

      Bushman says he usually re-paints grafitti within 48 hours of seeing it, but it's not long before it shows up again. He hopes with the recent arrest others will think twice before spreading their unwanted artwork.