NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — He saw something he didn’t like in his neighborhood, and took it on in a big way.

As CBS2’s Cindy Hsu reported, if there’s one thing that gets to John Provetto it’s graffiti, so he’s getting rid of it one tag at a time.

What started as just something to do when he retired from the MTA, turned into a full-time to crusade.

“Our goal is 100 percent graffiti free,” he said.

He started three years ago in his own Country Club neighborhood in the Bronx, but has since branched out — keeping a record of some 3,000 cleanups on his phone.

“He works more now, and I see him less now than when he was working a real job,” his wife Bailey said.

He works out of a fully stocked graffiti mobile.

“The ladders in here, we have drawers with brushes, rollers,” he explained.

He said the stakes are high — that graffiti is the first signal that a neighborhood is headed for decline.

“After the graffiti comes the litter, after the litter comes the drugs, after the drugs comes the prostitution, and it’s just a downslide,” he said.

He teamed up with the 45th Precinct and gets locations from their Facebook page. Provetto moves quickly.

“Swoosh, out, he’s gone,” Bailey said.

He said striking fast is crucial.

“By doing this right away, it tells them hey, we’re not gonna put up with it,” John said.

If the vandals come back, so will he.

“It’s like a challenge, and they’re not going to win. They’re not going to take over our neighborhood,” he said.

CBS2 went out with Provetto who pointed out his handiwork all along the way.

“Over here, the bus stop sign I did, the traffic control box I painted, that stop sign over there,” he explained.

It’s easy to understand his sense of satisfaction.

“He’s got a big heart, great guy, and we love him for everything he does,” neighbor Eddie Malave said.

Provetto said as much as the neighborhood appreciates the good deed, it’s deeply beneficial for him.

“It’s a feeling of getting something done. It’s a feeling of pride in your borough, it’s a feeling of pride n your city,” he said.

When Provetto started the job he was paying for all the supplies out of his own pocket, now he’s reimbursed by the state, thanks to a local assemblyman.

 

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