Detroit — Police Chief James Craig is using the recent arrest of five men charged with spraying graffiti on area buildings to send a message to taggers: Don’t do it here.

The suspects were arrested just after 3 p.m. Thursday when police responded to a complaint of men spray-painting the abandoned Murdock’s Tire Doctor at Livernois and Burlingame. Each man faces a felony charge of malicious destruction of property more than $1,000. A sixth person is being sought.

Craig noted Monday three of the five suspects are not Detroit residents. If people are not willing to do the crime in their own backyards, he said, they shouldn’t view Detroit as the place to do it.

“If you do it here in Detroit, you will be arrested and you will be prosecuted,” Craig said.

Police described the group as a “graffiti gang” whose work can be seen around the city. The suspects are:

■Juan Meza, 20, of Romulus.

■Ramon Curiel, 20, of Detroit.

■Jon Michael Hernandez, 20, of Lincoln Park.

■Cristian Aguinaga, 19, of Detroit.

■Rickey Steciak, 21, of Southgate.

Neighborhood police officer Roberto Berry was the first to respond to the call, and when he arrived he saw three men spray-painting the building. After realizing police were on the scene, the trio fled across Livernois and tried to leave in a blue 2000 Pontiac Montana minivan, but were stopped soon after and taken into custody, according to police.

The supervisor making the traffic stop also noticed three more individuals spray-painting the other side of the building. Those three tried to escape on foot into the surrounding neighborhood. Local residents told police three men escaped into the neighborhood and two were eventually taken into custody.

“These are serial vandals,” Detroit Police Sergeant Rebecca McKay said. “They are known in the city. This is not their first stint.”

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