BISMARCK — Some Richards go by Rick, Richie or Dick for short, but Richard Hudson goes by "CRAN," according to the police who arrested the Bismarck man on Tuesday, Sept. 15.
After a monthlong investigation, Bismarck police detained Hudson on suspicion of vandalizing six businesses in North Dakota's capital city with the four-letter graffiti tag.
Hudson, 33, is now being held at Burleigh-Morton Detention Center on criminal mischief and trespassing charges. A bail hearing has not yet been scheduled.
For the last few weeks, Bismarck residents have documented on social media the sudden and pervasive appearance of the "CRAN" tag on businesses, public infrastructure and construction sites around the city. One Facebook user posted seven visible examples of the vandal's handiwork on a popular local news page on Sunday. The post showed the letters appearing on Terry's Health Products and a sign for The Deck Store.
But a photo of the tag appearing on the knuckles of the Big Boy statue at the city's best-known fast food institution drew particular ire from residents. One Facebook user commented on the restaurant's post "Bismarck would be less upset if someone tagged the (Capitol) building than the beloved big boy...."
Several other users noted in the comment section that Hudson, a local tattoo artist originally from California, is known to be associated with the phrase "CRAN." It's unclear if police used the Facebook comments to learn Hudson's identity, and a spokesman for the department did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication. However, a public post from the department stated that it received anonymous tips during the investigation into the acts of vandalism.
Police estimate the damage to all the vandalized businesses will cost more than $18,000 to remedy.
It remains a mystery what "CRAN" actually means, but Bismarckers have floated plenty of hypotheses. One Facebook user said it's meant to be "narc" spelled backward, while Terry's Health Products playfully posited that the "late night artist" was "helping us advertise our awesome cranberry products."