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Alleged ‘Berg’ tagger busted in Petaluma

A Petaluma man believed to be responsible for vandalizing property with graffiti from Bakersfield to Seattle was arrested Monday by Santa Cruz police after a six-month investigation, police said Tuesday.

Police arrested Derek Murphy, 21, at his home in Petaluma on suspicion of vandalizing parks, walls, fences and two police cars in Santa Cruz in tagging cases discovered beginning on June 10, police Deputy Chief Steve Clark said.

Murphy is suspected of spray painting the tag “BERG” or “GREB” in Santa Cruz and police also attribute numerous tags to him found along U.S. Highway 101, Interstate Highway 880 and state Highway 37, Clark said.

During its investigation of the tags in Santa Cruz, police shared information with a number of law enforcement agencies in Northern California about the tags and obtained a lead from an investigator with the San Francisco Police Department, Clark said.

The probe led Santa Cruz detectives to work with investigators in the Sonoma County and Napa County sheriff’s offices and from the collaboration, detectives identified Murphy and a second person as suspects, according to Clark.

On Monday, Santa Cruz police served a search warrant at Murphy’s residence in Petaluma and at a home in American Canyon, police said.

Police arrested Murphy and recovered from inside his home a portfolio of taggings, sketchbooks, canvas art, photos, computers, digital cameras, and later found images of taggings on private and public property at several locations, Clark said.

Santa Cruz detectives believe that Murphy is responsible for vandalizing places with his tags throughout the West Coast, from Bakersfield to Seattle, according to Clark. Police, along with criminal penalties, will ask the District Attorney’s office to require that Murphy provide restitution for property he allegedly damaged, Clark said.

Murphy was previously arrested in San Francisco on suspicion of vandalism and resisting arrest, police said. Police are also seeking a warrant for a second suspect in the tagging in Santa Cruz, Clark said.

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