For years, someone has been plastering hundreds of white-and-black stickers that read, “Cyne,” onto Key West street signs and spray-painting the word on Lower Keys bridges and even Navy property.
The person behind “Cyne” has always eluded arrest.
But Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay says the person behind “Cyne” has finally been caught.
Brandon Joseph Mims 29, of Key West, was jailed Tuesday on 20 counts of criminal mischief, including two felony charges in which the estimated damage was more than $1,000.
Mims was also arrested on six felony charges of burglary and one misdemeanor charge of marijuana possession. He was released from the Stock Island Detention Center the same day after posting a $62,500 bond.
Mims videotaped himself spray-painting graffiti on a military building on Naval Air Station Key West property, the sheriff’s office said.
Reached by phone Wednesday, Mims said he didn’t want to talk about the case yet.
Asked if he is the person who does the “Cyne” stickers and paint, he wouldn’t answer.
Many locals cheered his arrest on Facebook.
“I hope they make him clean up every single one of his ‘Cynes,” posted Mark Masca of Key West.
Is he a graffiti artist or a vandal?
So far, no one in Key West has publicly defended the Cyne graffiti as good art.
“I’m not really offended by graffiti and/or street art,” posted Key West photographer Mark Hedden. “I am offended by how relentlessly lame, uninteresting, and ubiquitous this guys tagging is.”
Police say there’s no question about it and that by the time the “Cyne” graffiti is cleaned up, it will cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars in repairs.
“What this suspect did is not art,” said Ramsay. “It is vandalism, plain and simple. Defacing someone else’s property is a crime. As I’ve said many times, I firmly believe that cleaner, safer streets result in cleaner, safer communities.”
Sheriff’s Office Detectives Ken Fricke and Wendy Negron issued a search warrant for Mims’ social media accounts and reviewed more than 42,000 pages he had posted.
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Mims openly admitted to the vandalism in many cases, said Adam Linhardt, the sheriff’s spokesman.
“In one Instagram post, Mims posted a map of how he illegally entered Naval Air Station Key West property and vandalized one of their buildings located near Boca Chica Road,” Linhardt said.
The case began in November 2019 when deputies responded to the old quarry property on No Name Key after a report of trespassing.
Someone had spray-painted “Cyne” on a metal dredging crane and a storage container.
Mims was found on the property inside a 2006 GMC SUV registered to his mother, Renee Mims, according to police reports.
Deputies said they found a half gram of marijuana on Mims along with dozens of spray paint cans, both new and used, inside the SUV.
Mims told deputies at the time that he does paint graffiti but only at legal locations on Stock Island.
Deputies also said they found a stack of the same type of “Cyne” stickers that have been posted on property across Key West.
The search warrant later showed that Mims designed and ordered several hundred dollars’ worth of the same sticker, Linhardt said.
One Instagram post by Mims included photos he took of that interaction with deputies in November 2019 on No Name Key. Mims wrote in the post that he was “almost” caught.
The “Cyne” culprit has ventured onto restricted Naval Air Station Key West property on Boca Chica Road to leave a 4-by-6-foot “Cyne” on the back of one government building.
“Cyne” has also been spray-painted across several bridges along U.S. 1, including the Key Deer overpass at mile marker 32.5 on Big Pine Key.
Mims has no adult criminal history in Monroe County.
But Mims, a former U.S. Army soldier stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, in 2013 was found not guilty of murder in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Michael Ray Staggs was killed by a shotgun blast to the head while he sat in his car in a parking lot outside a Chinese restaurant on Jan. 20, 2011, according to the Fayetteville Observer.
Prosecutors had circumstantial evidence linking Mims, including gun powder residue on one of his truck’s window areas and the fact he owned the type of gun used in the crime, the Observer reported.
Mims had been seen in the parking lot not long before the murder.
Staggs did not know Mims, according to Staggs’ family.
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