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Sometimes graffiti is used as a way to memorialize someone, such as the string of “BORF” tags in the mid-2000s, which were done by a local art student to remember a deceased friend.

The most outrageous location Mr. Broadus has seen a tag is on the backside of a sign posted high above Interstate 395 near the Southeast-Southwest Freeway. The C&O Canal in Georgetown is a popular location, which Mr. Broadus said has been painted at least 10 times in the last year.

And while the chemicals Mr. Broadus’ team employs to remove paint are most effective in warmer weather, he said taggers don’t hibernate in the winter.

“They put their aerosol cans on the car dashboard to stay warm,” he said.

The Public Works Department gets thousands of graffiti complaints from residents and businesses. In recent years, a partnership with a local paint store allowed residents to pick up a free can of paint to restore their defiled property, but Ms. Lyons said that coupon option was not available in 2012, which could be another reason for the boost in cleanup orders.

This particular job came from the mayor’s office.

“We try to have it done within 48 hours,” Mr. Broadus said with a knowing smile, “but we gotta move a little faster for the mayor’s office.”