06/18/2013 08:42 EDT | Updated 08/18/2013 05:12 EDT

Police probe Mohinder graffiti in East Vancouver

Complaints are flooding into police from the public about graffiti of the word Mohinder that has appeared throughout East Vancouver.

"It has been brought to our attention as spreading and gaining a little bit of notoriety throughout the city," said Sgt. Randy Fincham of the Vancouver Police Department.

Fincham said it is hard to establish if the vandalism is the work of one person or not, but he says anti-graffiti investigators are trying to determine how widespread it is.

Defacing public or private property is a criminal offence.

'Time and money'

David Wong's business, a Dairy Queen on Main Street, was tagged twice in recent months.

"Every year I guess we spend anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 on painting [over graffiti] " says Wong.

If graffiti is on private property, the City of Vancouver requires owners to clean it up at their own expense within 10 days.

But if the graffiti appears on public property, the city sends out a private company, Goodbye Graffiti, to remove it, which costs a minimum of $199 each time.

Amy Moscrop, owner of Goodbye Graffiti, says the cost increases depending on the size of the tag and the material of the wall it is painted on.

Community Response

Despite the fact graffiti is a criminal offence, the tag has become a symbol of East Vancouver, said writer, former graffiti artist, and East Van resident Douglas Haddow in an interview with On The Coast host, Stephen Quinn.

"People want to take it on and spread it further," says Haddow "they want it to drench the landscape of East Vancouver."

The vandalism has also prompted a series of 'paint-outs' by the Grandview Woodland Community Police Centre, according to coordinator Adrian Archambault.

"We find [graffiti] tends to heighten people's fear," says Archambault "and one of the things we try to do is to go into areas and improve them."

With files from the CBC's Stephen Quinn, Meera Bains and Jodie Martinson. You can follow them on twitter @CBCStephenQuinn, @meerakati and @JodieMartinson.

You can join host Stephen Quinn On the Coast from 3 p.m to 6 p.m on CBC Radio One, 88.1FM/690AM.