A gang is a group of people who band together for a common purpose and are involved in criminal activity. Other traits of gang members include sharing one or more of the following: a group name; symbols, tattoos or graffiti; style of dress; frequently congregating upon, or laying claim to, a geographic location; and associating on a regular or continuous basis.
It should not be assumed that any ethnic group is more predisposed to membership in a criminal gang. Although some gangs limit participation to their own native ethnic grouping, in fact there is no major ethnic group within the county that is not represented in one of the major criminal street gangs.
What are gang identifiers?
The simple presence of fashion or symbols associated with gang participation is not enough to determine gang membership. However, it may warrant further investigation or discussion with the individual.
Traditionally, gang involvement may be shown through various means, including clothing and jewelry. This has included the deliberate display of certain color combinations or symbols, which may carry special significance to gang members that isn’t immediately obvious to a casual observer. Sometimes pre-existing symbols, such as a professional sports team logo or even religious symbols, may be used. These indicators generally change, and may be adopted as fashion by non-gang members.
Tattoos and hand signs are used by many gangs. Tattoos may be more common with some gangs than others. Hand signs may change.
The Fairfax County Skindeep Tattoo Removal Program will remove gang-related tattoos from area youth. Information also is available at 703-246-7182, TTY 711.
What should I do if I suspect gang activity or see graffiti?
Suspected gang activity can be reported to the Fairfax County Police Department in one of three ways:
Emergency situations: call 911.
No emergency, only to report: call 703-691-2131, TTY 711.
Call the Fairfax County Police Department at 703-691-2131, TTY 711, if graffiti is spotted. These reports are taken seriously and an officer will be dispatched to the location to photograph and record the graffiti and incident. Once the report is taken property owners are strongly encouraged to immediately have the graffiti removed. Products specifically formulated to remove or paint over graffiti are available at many home improvement and paint stores, as well as online.
Graffiti on roads or property maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation should be reported to VDOT, which has a database to look up street names to determine if it is responsible for maintenance.