Some locations within your property will always be more prone to graffiti vandalism than others. Trains and train stations, inner city laneways and shopping centres face a constant battle to maintain their assets and reduce graffiti removal expenditure. Such locations are exposed to high volumes of people; unfortunately a small percentage of these individuals will take the opportunity to display their graffiti tags to a wider audience.
The most effective way of preventing graffiti is to remove it quickly. This has always been the case and is unlikely to change. However, high risk property locations can benefit from additional graffiti prevention strategies.
One strategy which is gradually being introduced to protect government property is graffiti detection technology. Catching graffiti vandals can be difficult as their crimes can be performed in a matter of seconds. The perpetrator will then exit the crime scene and if no witnesses report it, they may go unpunished and gain further confidence to repeat the offence.
Sydney Trains implemented a graffiti detection system called Mousetrap, which uses electronic chemical sensor technology1. The sensors detect vapour from spray paint and marker pens, triggering an alarm. The security team will then check their surveillance footage and arrest the vandals at the train station or at the next stop.
Sydney trains found the trial to be effective in reducing their graffiti removal expenditure, which peaked at an annual cost of $34 million.
Newcastle City Council has also achieved excellent results using a similar graffiti detection sensor system2. The system complemented their goals to address graffiti, vandalism, community safety, cleanliness and appearance throughout the city. The sensors are able to detect the use of spray cans and marker pens from up to 40 metres away, sending a text message to alert key personnel.
Vapour detection isn’t the only solution available. In the United States a system called Tagger Trap uses acoustic sensors which detect the ultrasonic sound frequencies emitted by spray cans3. Security cameras are then activated to record the evidence, and an alert with GPS coordinates is sent to the relevant security personnel.
While graffiti detection devices have their merit, they may not be suitable for all property owners or government departments. Graffiti detection systems are most likely to prevent graffiti when there is a security guard or police presence in the area to apprehend the culprits. For this reason, trains and train stations, shopping centres and busy inner-city locations can achieve greater success than other graffiti-prone areas such as warehouses, schools, sports facilities and apartment complexes.
It’s also worth remembering that detection devices work best as part of a well-rounded graffiti prevention strategy. The best form of prevention will always be to remove it within 48 hours, as leaving it alone only encourages further acts of vandalism. High risk property owners will often arrange a set price maintenance agreement with a graffiti removal specialist, passing the risk of graffiti vandalism onto somebody else. Anti-graffiti coatings also make rapid graffiti removal easier to achieve.
Additional strategies worth considering include:
Strategic Design of Walls – a brick design with varying colours and a rough finish will make it difficult for graffiti to stand out.
Fences and Gates – A permeable or semi-permeable design will make it difficult for graffiti to stand out.
Murals – Colourful, artistic mural (no graffiti-style scrawl) will usually deter the addition of graffiti.
Plants – Planting non-deciduous trees and bushes in front of walls and fences.
Signage – Signs warning of a permanent security or watch dog presence.
Limit Accessibility – Install high fences and gates to prevent areas from being accessed outside of business hours, or to prevent secluded locations such as laneways, loading docks, and rear entrances from being accessed.
To speak to a graffiti removal and prevention specialist, contact The Graffiti Eaters. We are chosen by Australia’s largest organisations such as Woolworths, 7/11 and Westpac, to ensure their properties remain graffiti-free!
1 The Daily Telegraph
3 The wars on graffiti and the new military urbanism