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Vandals hit ‘Fabulous Las Vegas’ sign

Red letters scrawled on sign and leg holding up the structure


Jinae West

Graffiti was found Monday morning on the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign on Las Vegas Boulevard South.

Updated Monday, July 13, 2009 | 2:58 p.m.

Graffiti found on 'Fabulous' sign

Graffiti was found Monday morning on the Launch slideshow »

Las Vegas Sign

Legendary Las Vegas neon sign designer Betty Willis, known for her world-famous "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign, talks about how she created her illustrious masterpiece and the significance of each of the sign's various symbols.

UPDATED STORY: $500 later, red graffiti removed from ‘Fabulous’ sign

As tourists lined up to snap photos of the "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign Monday morning, many noticed something amiss.

Red graffiti was scrawled on the famous landmark, defacing the main face and one of its structural legs.

Cameron Randall and friend Kevin Daniels, visiting from North Carolina, noticed it right away and were disappointed someone would damage the popular tourist attraction.

"It's kind of sad someone would vandalize something like that," Daniels said. "It's the entrance to the city and everything."

The Young Electric Sign Company owns the sign and leases it to Clark County, county spokeswoman Jennifer Knight said. A red Sharpie marker was used to scrawl the lettering, said Russell Davis of the county's Department of Public Works.

If the company can't restore the sign to its original condition, the county will call in its own contractors to remove the graffiti, Davis said.

Company representatives plan to visit the sign Tuesday and estimate how much it will cost to repair and clean.

"We just repaired that sign a couple weeks ago," a YesCo spokeswoman said. "A couple weeks ago, somebody threw a rock through it."

The Clark County Commission recently launched a Turn-In-A-Tagger program to combat graffiti, which costs the county millions of dollars a year. Adult taggers who are caught by Metro Police, North Las Vegas or Henderson Police officers could be sentenced to help clear up graffiti, officials said.

On Monday, Katie Williams of Missouri said the vandalism was a disheartening act.

"We'll have to Photoshop it out of my photo," she said.

The sign has been a part of the city's history since 1959. Las Vegas native Betty Whitehead Willis came up with the design after Western Neon was contracted by the Clark County Commission. The county offered the company $4,000 to build a sign to welcome visitors to Las Vegas.

On May 1, the sign was entered into the National Register of Historic Places.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (702) 385-5555. A $500 reward to an anonymous caller may be available for information leading to the arrest of graffiti vandals.

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