For Some NYC Shop Owners, Graffiti Is a Never-Ending Problem

Joan Arata says she has seen a decline in business due to the graffiti on her storefront. And keeping it clean is a constant battle.

New York’s trendy SoHo neighborhood boasts some of the highest commercial rents in the world, but you might not know it judging by the amount of graffiti adorning some storefronts. 

Small-business owner Joan Arata says her acupuncture studio has become a constant graffiti target.

“It’s incredibly frustrating for us,” Arata said. “It’s just got worse and worse. Because now when you look outside, you can see graffiti on top of graffiti.”

Arata says she has seen a decline in business due to the graffiti. 

“Not only does it make the building look really awful, but it makes people wonder if we’re actually open and in business. And it’s really hurt our business,” Arata said about her store Modern Acupuncture.

Not far from SoHo, Inside Edition ran into Matao Chumarro, spraying away on green construction walls. 

“For me, doing graffiti, this is like, kind of the perfect place to come and do it,” Chumarro said. 

“Like I said, nobody’s going to get hurt. This is an NYU building. You know, I feel like NYU put this here for me, because this is like a canvas for me,” he continued.

Graffiti is a misdemeanor in the city, punishable by a $1,000 fine. But that hasn’t deterred Chumarro, who says he’s never gotten a ticket or been arrested.

“For the shop owners and some of the residents, it’s a big problem,” NYPD Captain Thomas P. Smith said.

Store keepers are taking steps to stem the graffiti tide. Inside Edition was there as police and volunteers helped paint over the graffiti on Arata’s storefront.

Arata was grateful for the help, but says it’s only a matter of time before her store is vandalized again.

“As soon as we paint, then it’s a clean slate, so people literally start spray painting the next day. So it’s like we can never keep the building clean,” Arata said.

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