Edmonton police display spray paint used as evidence in a recent graffiti vandalism arrest. (CBC)

Edmonton’s first-ever audit of graffiti signatures, or tags, is helping police and the city prevent vandalism by tracking and charging repeat offenders, says Coun. Amarjeet Sohi.

"Graffiti vandalism has a negative impact not only on our vision of our city, but the impression visitors have of our city," he said. "The audit results will help us take back our homes, our streets and our neighbourhoods from graffiti vandals."

The 2010 audit examined 646 locations and recorded 1,978 graffiti tags in 20 Edmonton neighbourhoods most affected by graffiti vandalism.

The audit found that 10 taggers accounted for nearly half the graffiti in those neighbourhoods which include the downtown, Strathcona, Boyle Street and Central McDougall.

Last fall one tagger was convicted of 23 incidents of mischief and sentenced to victim restitution payments of approximately $6,000, a fine of $1,000, and 150 hours of community service.

"We’re now able to hold more vandals accountable for their crimes because of better reporting by citizens, stronger partnerships between the police, city and community, and more effective tracking tools like the Graffiti Vandalism Audit," said Insp. Terry Rocchio.

The auditor, a third-party consultant specializing in environmental auditing, examined graffiti data such as photos from 2008 to 2010.

About 75 per cent of graffiti was on private property.

The auditor noted that many walls covered in murals, such as the Salvation Army building, were not defaced by graffiti even though the artwork was completed as far back as 2003.