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Graffiti unnerves gang-wary neighbors

It might be mere vandalism, but residents of Carrollwood Meadows in northwestern Hillsborough hope it's not a sign of things to come.

By AMBER MOBLEY
Published June 20, 2006


CARROLLWOOD - The appearance of gang-related and racially charged graffiti in a northwestern Hillsborough neighborhood late last week has residents worried that gangs are in their midst.

Graffiti - some nearly 5 feet tall - popped up on walls throughout Carrollwood Meadows on Thursday night, according to a Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office report.

And as late as Sunday night, vandals spray-painted words like "Blood Nation," "Bloods" and "Mob B----," on the neighborhood's large privacy fence, along its wall on Lynn Turner Road leading to the entrance and on other walls.

The Sheriff's Office has no suspects.

Vandals spray-painted graffiti in the nearby Village Estates community as well as a local bank this weekend.

Carrollwood Meadows residents wonder whether gang activity from the nearby Town 'N Country area, site of a gang-linked double homicide in February, is heading their way, said Anne Marie Taft, past president of the homeowners association.

Carrollwood Meadows, a deed-restricted community of 822 houses, is just south of Ehrlich Road and east of the Veterans Expressway near Citrus Park.

The weekend's spray-painting is not the first time vandals have scrawled on Carrollwood Meadows' walls in recent months, Taft said.

But possibly more bothersome to residents is the behavior by teens and young adults who block traffic along the neighborhood's two-lane roads and jump into the paths of oncoming cars, forcing them to stop abruptly.

"Whoever's doing all this might think it's cute," said Taft, "but it puts a lot of fear in people."

The Carrollwood Meadows Homeowners Association hopes the community will discourage spray-painting by covering the privacy wall with vines, said newly elected homeowners association president Barbara Mitchell. The neighborhood's internal crime watch plans on stepping up its patrols and encouraging residents to report any suspicious activity, she said.

District 3 Deputy William Sarver, the area's community resource officer, said he also plans extra patrols. Sarver painted over the graffiti he discovered Friday morning. Due to Monday showers - and because he ran out of paint - Sarver was making other arrangements to cover the new graffiti.

Amber Mobley can be reached at 813 269-5311 or amobley@sptimes.com.

[Last modified June 19, 2006, 22:15:52]


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