Daily Point of Light # 2069 Jan 8, 2002

Anthony Piraino is a husband and father and works a full-time job. However, he still finds time in his busy schedule to work to make his community a better place to live. Since 1992, he has founded three organizations that are solving problems prevalent in his Phoenix community.

In 1992, Piraino founded the Northwest Block Watch Coalition (NWBWC). This is a nonprofit crime prevention organization whose mission is to bring the community together while also taking a stand against criminals. Piraino and the Coalition urge citizens to get involved and keep watch for each other so they all can benefit. They refuse to allow a criminal element to take over and intimidate them in their own neighborhood.

Piraino also founded the Graffiti Hotline. This program offers rewards anonymously to citizens willing to identify graffiti vandals. Since its inception, the Hotline has received more than 26,430 calls, established in excess of 1,420 cases, and paid more than $91,200 in rewards. The Graffiti Hotline is also responsible for more than 716 arrests. They are definitely making a statement to vandals in the community that they care and they will no longer stand by and see it being destroyed.

The Stealth Team is another of Piraino’s projects. During the last six years, Piraino and his Team have painted over more than 425,000 square feet of graffiti. Daily, the team goes out at sunrise canvassing the neighborhoods. They take a donated truck with a professional paint-spraying rig and paint over graffiti that was put up the night before. The Stealth Team also takes digital pictures of the tags or the graffiti artist’s signatures. These tags are placed in a database along with other information and have been used to successfully prosecute vandals. In addition to the tagging data, police handwriting experts work to apprehend and charge vandals. They can then be held financially responsible for the damage. To date, this Team has tracked more than 3,000 vandals and traveled in excess of 15,000 miles, painting out graffiti.

In addition to going out on the truck, Piraino attacks the vandalism problem by going to schools, crime prevention fairs, block watch meetings and community gatherings. He speaks to the old and young alike and distributes t-shirts, posters and pencils, along with a candid message. Some children look at graffiti as harmless; they are unaware that the annual cost associated with graffiti and cleaning it up is approximately $15 billion annually in America. Piraino has also initiated a home painting program for seniors and disabled citizens who are not able to do their own upkeep. During the past two years, Piraino and NWBWC volunteers have painted 30 houses.

Piraino’s programs have been so successful that they have reduced graffiti by 92% in their area over the past six years. Because of his positive impact and innovative programs, Piraino has been asked to take his messages to other states and police conferences. He has also been the guest of the Australian government so he could share his programs and views on combating graffiti. Anthony Piraino works tirelessly to make Phoenix a better place to visit and live and willingly shares his successful methods with others so they can achieve the same results in their communities.