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Dob-in bid to clean up graffiti
AN ANONYMOUS hotline to dob in graffiti vandals is being used in a bid to crack open the notoriously secretive subculture.
And convicted graffiti vandals will from today be forced to clean up their own mess as part of a get-tough approach to a scourge that costs the state $100 million every year.
In a state first, police and Sutherland Shire Council used an anonymous hotline and the lure of cash rewards for the weekend's Operation Come Clean.
The push to dob in a graffiti vandal is similar to the tactics of Operation Noah, which was credited with bringing down thousands of drug dealers over the past 20 years.
"There is a subculture with juveniles and it is difficult to infiltrate that culture. It's a difficult crime to get unless you catch them red-handed," Superintendent David Donohue said.
"We are trying to infiltrate the links. People must know them, people who sell to them, the suppliers of pens and paints. It costs the community a lot of money and puts a fear of crime into the community."
Supt Donohue said police would keep a file of the graffiti markings known as tags and link it to individuals.
"Young people talk about it, photograph it, there is a subculture there and we need to get some leads on that."
Sutherland Council is offering rewards of up to $5000 and Crime Stoppers up to $1000 for intelligence leading to criminal proceedings.
"This is believed to be the first operation of its type and we need the public to be our eyes and ears to help find those responsible for graffiti," Sutherland Mayor Lorraine Kelly said.
"Stamping out this scourge is something the police and council cannot do alone. Quality information from the public is at the heart of the success of this operation."
Premier Kristina Keneally, at Pagewood yesterday to support the first Graffiti Action Day, said vandals would be forced by law to "clean up their own mess" from today. "Graffiti costs the state $100 million every year so it's only right that they clean up property they have defaced," Ms Keneally said.
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