Jellyfish Bandit Invading Columbus’ Short North

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UPDATED: Wednesday July 31, 2013 6:26 PM

Jellyfish are invading Columbus' Short North.

They’re not the kind that swim deep in the ocean, but rather the kind that come out of a spray paint can.  

Some area leaders say the problem is only getting worse, but no one really knows who’s doing it.

People around the Short North area say the “jellyfish bandit” is tagging both public and private property.

He or she is creating interesting looking creatures on walls, fences, garbage cans  and any surface they can paint.

10TV caught up with city workers covering up, what some consider, a mess.

At one reported problem location, the workers found spray painted pink jellyfish on the city's garbage lids.  

And while each takes only a matter of minutes to cover with green spray paint, the workers say they could have used this time to repave roads or trim trees.

Resident Keith Joffe stares at a blue jellyfish on his neighbor's wall.

“Defacing property. It's not right. You don't do that to somebody's property,” said Joffe.

A few blocks over, 10TV found a similar splash of paint on Pearson McWane's garage.

“Graffiti's a problem. There's no doubt about it,” said McWane.

McWane says he didn’t draw the designs, but he says because he didn't clean it up, the city gave him 30 days to remove the two-tone jellyfish or face a $500 fine and 60 days in jail.

“And what's to guarantee that if I take this thing off, four weeks later something like that's going to be up, maybe even worse,” said McWane.

McWane says he called the city, pleaded his case, and they dropped the fine.

No one denies that the paintings are graffiti. They deface others’ property and cost money to remove.  

Some are asking the question, is it art?

“I've seen them around. Some people cover them up when they come up, but I think they're kind of pretty,” said resident Carolyn Phillips.

Phillips showed 10TV the pictures she took of the multi-colored marine animals, but knows this kind of behavior shouldn’t be encouraged.

“It's a pain. It's an expense to go over it.  Even though it's pretty, you get rid of graffiti because other people will want to tag over it,” said Phillips.

City officials say Columbus police do not believe the graffiti is gang related.

The city offers a program to get it removed.

Dial 311 and tell them where it is.  They will remove graffiti twice a year from a particular private location and continually from public areas.

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