WICKER PARK — In the wee hours of the morning Sunday, three taggers were caught etching graffiti onto a glass storefront, police said.
Police arrested the men after witnessing the action, which happened at 2:30 a.m. at Covo Gyro, 1482 N. Milwaukee Ave, they said.
"It's disgusting," said building owner Steve Lipe, adding that graffiti has been a problem in the area for a decade or longer. "Who are these people's parents?"
But this incident, police said, was not the work of kids, or even teenagers — one of the alleged taggers is nearly 40 years old.
Charged with criminal defacement of property were Nicholas Guerra, 25, of the 3600 block of West Eddy St.; Jayson Tobias, 39, of the 5300 block of West Oakdale Avenue; and Peter Pacheco, 31, of the 4500 block of South California Avenue. Pacheco also was charged with resisting arrest.
All three were released Sunday on $1,500 bonds, said Officer Joshua Purkiss, a Chicago Police Department spokesman.
Tobias, who has no apparent criminal history, admitted in a phone interview that he was involved in the incident and said he regrets his actions.
"It was honestly an idiotic mistake on my part," Tobias said Thursday.
A costume shop worker, Tobias said he had just met the other two accused taggers at Crocodile Lounge, 1540 N. Milwaukee Ave., the evening before the incident. The other two men could not be reached for comment.
"We were at the same bar, I was drunk. It was belligerent on my part. I'm really embarrassed. I haven't been in trouble in 20 years, and I've been a productive member of society, with the same job for 11 years," Tobias said.
Tobias said police officers confiscated his "black sharpie Magnum 44 marker," which he had on him because earlier he'd used it to mark costumes at a warehouse at his job.
Tobias said acid etchings on the windows were not his work, but another tagging in marker was.
Tobias said that when he was 19, he was caught after writing his ex-girlfriend's name on a bathroom stall at the Century Mall on the North Side. He was punished with one year of probation and 32 hours of community service, he said.
Another one of the men has been charged with similar crimes in the past.
Guerra was charged with possession of tagging paraphernalia and criminal damage to property in 2005 and in 2007.
Unable to afford a lawyer, Tobias said he will accept whatever punishment he's given.
"I totally understand if [the property owner] is upset," he said. "I work in retail, and I get it."
The men are scheduled to appear in court on the charges Feb. 5.