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A 20-year-old accused of tagging about 100 buildings and signs in just eight weeks this year is among more than 200 alleged graffiti vandals caught in a police blitz.
Deputy Police Commissioner Stephen Brown said graffiti cost taxpayers at least $25 million a year in clean-up and repairs.
But it also caused public unease, ranking just behind hoon driving in creating a perception that an area was unsafe and had a lot of crime.
“It’s not just the owner of the signs or the wall who are victims,” Mr Brown said.
“Graffiti is very visible so everybody passing by is affected.
“That’s why we have such a heavy focus (on the crime).”
Police also try to prevent the unsightly scourge by educating children, who are commonly the culprits and giving building owners advice on how to avoid being hit.
Bassendean Railway Museum obtained grants to install better fencing and more than a dozen CCTV cameras after its historic exhibits were hit at least once a month.
Rail Heritage WA committee member Philippa Rogers described the damage as “shattering”, saying vandals were cutting through fencing and spraying tags on about 12 restored carriages and vehicles each time. “A lot of our volunteers are older and have put a lot of time into restoring these trains,” she said.
“It is devastating emotionally ... and you don’t want to spend time and money redoing things.”
Ms Rogers said she believed the museum was often hit because trains were worth “high points” among competitive vandals and the site was seen as an easier target than the public rail network, particularly during police crackdowns.
She said the tighter security was making the museum less attractive to vandals.
Since launching the latest graffiti crackdown in February, police have charged 208 people with 437 offences.
Research showed graffiti often escalated to more serious crimes. That was evident in the blitz, with suspected vandals also charged with theft, assault, burglary or drug offences.
This article first appeared on thewest.com.au
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