Alleged graffiti vandal tagged by Nevada City police | TheUnion.com

Alleged graffiti vandal tagged by Nevada City police

A bathroom stall door covered with grafitti in Nevada City reportedly caused by Joseph Venuti.

For the last several weeks, a graffiti vandal has been striking all over Nevada City, leaving behind a slew of mustachioed Frenchmen and even a snail emblazoned across building walls, public bathroom stall doors and phone booths. But now Nevada City Police have arrested a suspect, who was booked into custody and released Friday.

The tagging with a French theme had been going on since the first part of May, said Nevada City Police Officer Shane Franssen.

"Typically it's a little French guy with a long nose and chin, with a handlebar mustache," Franssen said. "He also does a snail with a mustache."

Sometimes the drawings were accompanied with a political sentiment. One featured the beret-clad caricature saying, "People who are without creativity build dead institutions." Several chalk drawings outside the Nevada County District Attorney's office urged people to vote for Cliff Newell's opponent.

Franssen said he knew of at least two dozen separate incidents of tagging, adding that in one instance graffiti that had been cleaned off one morning reappeared that night.

"We've been trying to track him down," he said.

A bar employee who confronted the vandal reportedly was told he was 'expressing his art," Franssen said. That witness was one of two who positively identified the suspect through a photo lineup and signed citizen's arrest forms, Franssen said.

The suspect, identified as Joseph Anthony Venuti, 28, was subsequently arrested on suspicion of vandalism, and his bail was set at $20,000 due to the number of incidents.

To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email lkellar@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.