KPD investigating graffiti tag on several businesses

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The Knoxville Police Department is investigating after at least eight different places on Cumberland Avenue were tagged with spray paint.

All of the locations hit have the word "Stonrz" tagged on the side of the building, or, in some cases, on construction site road signs.

The City of Knoxville said they work quickly to have graffiti like this removed. Director of Public Service Chad Weth said that while businesses have to cover the cost of removal themselves, the city can help.

"We do try to make a push to get it covered up as quickly as possible, and that's the one thing I encourage businesses to do as well," said Weth. "If you quickly cover it up, it should deter them from coming back."

If a business owner can not afford the cost, Weth said the city will try to provide other resources and contact groups such as the non-profit group Keep Knoxville Beautiful.

The group can provide free graffiti removal kits to businesses in need. For more information on those kits visit: Keep Knoxville Beautiful.

"They're just making their town look more scruffy in a bad way, and they could be putting that talent towards something more constructive," said Coordinator for Keep Knoxville Beautiful Sarah Carman.

Carman and Keep Knoxville beautiful have encouraged people to seek out places in Knoxville where graffiti is accepted as art, such as Strong Alley in Market Square.

"I think it's really important to make the distinction between street art and vandalism, things like this don't really show a lot of creativity," said Carman.

The Knoxville Police Department said they are looking into the tags. Reporter David Ball counted at least 8 on Cumberland Avenue on Monday.

The businesses affected include Chipotle, First Tennessee bank and Walgreens. Other locations were construction sites and signs.

There are no suspects at this time. It is unclear how long it will take business owners to remove the graffiti.