Police Catch Up To 'National Nuisance'

Tagger Admits Hitting Buildings In Indiana, Other States

A "national nuisance," as police call him, was taken off the streets Thursday night with the arrest of one of the city's most prolific purveyors of graffiti.

Miguel Villanueva, 23, tagged dozens of buildings in Indianapolis with his signature symbol of "choke," which is how the tattoo artist refers to himself.

Villanueva told 6News as he was being arrested Thursday that he hit buildings not only in Indiana but in other states, and spends as much as eight hours each night tagging various areas, 6News' Sarah Cornell reported.

"I don't think it's making the city look like crap. I think it actually … shows a little character for the city," Villanueva said with a smile. "For all you people out there that don't like my graffiti, I'd have to say, 'Too bad, man.'"

His scrawlings could be seen on some buildings on Illinois Street and Central Avenue, along with the old Winona Hospital, before the city cleaned it up last week.

"He's all about name recognition. He's all about himself and wanting people to see his artwork and know who he is," said Indianapolis police Detective Frank Miller Jr. "Unfortunately, that's not going to fly in this city."

Miguel Villanueva

Altogether, Sgt. Matt Mount said Villanueva caused more than $100,000 in damage to private and public properties in the last year.

Paul Glesk, the owner of a new $2.5 million law office at 10th and Delaware streets downtown said graffiti credited to Villanueva and others will cost $22,000 to remove.

"It's destructive. It's malicious," Glesk said. "He's damaged his own body with tattoos and somehow he thinks that damaging buildings with his own tattooing graffiti is a form of art. It is not."

Villanueva, who said he started tagging eight years ago, was nabbed after Crime Stoppers published a sample of his work.

He was arrested on three counts of criminal mischief. Prosecutors will decide whether he will be charged with a felony.