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Watch a month of graffiti cleanup in Los Angeles

A man paints over graffiti on top of a business on November 1, 2006 in the Koreatown section of Los Angeles, California.
David McNew/Getty Images
A man paints over graffiti on top of a business on November 1, 2006 in the Koreatown section of Los Angeles, California.

Cleaning graffiti from the streets of Los Angeles is an endless task. Specialized graffiti abatement crews blast it away with water, chemically treat it, and paint over miles of marred surfaces.

In the first month of 2015 alone, crews cleaned away 270,000 square feet of graffiti - 46 football fields' worth of the stuff, according to data from the city's Office of Community Beautification.

Much of the work is done by contractors with names like South Los Angeles Beautification Team, Gang Alternatives Program and Northeast Graffiti Busters. All together, these crews reported putting in more than 10,000 hours in January cleaning away graffiti.

Virtually no neighborhood is immune. Using the city's data, KPCC turned a month of graffiti reports across Los Angeles into an animated gif.

The information here represents graffiti reported by the city and its contractors, as well as calls by citizens to 311 and reports to its online tool. The bigger the circle, the more square feet cleaned up, according to reports.

All together, the map displays 34,681 reports of graffiti from New Year's Day to January 31, 2015.

That's just below average for the month. Stretching back six years, the average number of reports in January is around 36,000. The high of 42,390 graffiti sightings for the month came in January 2011.

The numbers don't include Caltrans, the parks department, the County, LAUSD and Metro, which all clean graffiti from own property in the city.

Though more than 32,000 tags, gang signs and pieces were cleaned up in January 2015, another 31,000 reports of graffiti came in the following month.

Those reports don't necessarily stream in as the graffiti gets sprayed. Taggers are nocturnal, out committing their crimes as the clean-up crews are in bed resting for early-morning shifts. 

You can see in the chart below that reports of graffiti tend to come in on weekdays.

The top 20 January days for graffiti reports were all weekdays, with the most coming in on January 22, a Thursday. Instances of graffiti were spotted and reported 1,921 times that day.

The fewest reports came in on New Year's Day, a holiday. City employees, its contractors and citizens reported just 196 instances of graffiti on the first day of the year.