- The Washington Times - Monday, January 21, 2002

A Fairfax County, Va. detective took advantage of a young graffiti vandal's hubris to nab him and his accomplice in 15 separate instances of property destruction.
After bragging online to Fairfax Detective Nickolas Boffi about his graffiti prowess, 19-year-old John Lavezzo, of Great Falls, was arrested this month.
Unbeknownst to Mr. Lavezzo, Mr. Boffi had connected photos of graffiti the boastful spray-painter had posted on the Internet with the vandalism he had seen in his jurisdiction.
The detective had been tracking the suspect's graffiti exploits on the Internet since August.
Much of the graffiti in the photos posted online by Mr. Lavezzo and 20-year-old Kevin Costello, of Oakton, had been spray-painted on signs along Interstate 95.
Mr. Lavezzo and Mr. Costello were arrested on Jan. 8 and charged with one count of felony property destruction and three misdemeanors each. Mr. Lavezzo was released that day on $12,500 bond, and Mr. Costello was released the next day on $8,000 bond.
They could face five years in prison but likely will receive probation and be forced to pay restitution, said Fairfax Police spokesman Rudy Donaldson.
It will cost $15,500 either to replace the signs or to clean up the vandalism.
"It's not a crime that doesn't affect people. It does," said Lucy Caldwell, a spokeswoman for Virginia State Police.
Mr. Donaldson said the case "was the largest that we've had," but officials do not feel that the latest arrests signal a return to Virginia's problems of the early 1990s with graffiti tagging on I-95.
The strategy of tracking and catching culprits online was used in a case last year, said Mr. Donaldson.
Mr. Boffi was assigned the case in August and quickly found the work of Mr. Lavezzo and Mr. Costello on a Web site.
Their graffiti had appeared on road signs along I-95 and Route 66, as well as on a Kaiser Permanente building in Fair Lakes.
Mr. Boffi made contact via e-mail with Mr. Lavezzo, who was operating online under a screen name. Mr. Boffi obtained a warrant to uncover Mr. Lavezzo's identity and then made the arrests.
"It was very good police work," Mr. Donaldson said.
Mr. Boffi is part of the West Springfield District's Criminal Investigative Section.
Mr. Costello's father was reached at home but said he would not comment while charges were pending against his son.

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