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The Offenses of Graffiti Taggers

by Jo Charnock, onGraffiti Removal , June 30, 2020

Here at Ablate, we are graffiti removal experts in Melbourne. In this section we will talk about the hidden human costs to remove graffiti, graffiti taggers and the cost of vandalism.


Firstly, there is no denying the fact that the cost of  graffiti in Melbourne is high. However, this cost is not only measured in dollars, but also at an additional human expense. Graffiti represents a certain danger in the community and causes fear among the elderly and more vulnerable people.  Consequently, the loss of services can also be attributed to graffiti, and that, in turn, lowers the quality of life in our communities.


The cost to remove graffiti in Melbourne

The annual costs to remove graffiti in Australia exceeds more than $2 billion. While in Melbourne the annual cost to remove graffiti exceeds $100 million. These figures are your tax money and do not include the price that private individuals and companies pay to remove graffiti.

According to Victoria Police, there are at least 140 graffiti gangs, also known as taggers, operating in our state. It’s worth noting that there are at least 800 individual graffiti taggers registered in the system. However, the actual figure may be as many as 300 graffiti gangs. In addition, there may be as many as 3500 youths between the ages of 12 and 18 years old involved in graffiti in the city of Melbourne.

As reported by the police, during 2 nights of this year, a single gang of nine graffiti vandals caused damages with a value of $182,000.


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The human cost of graffiti in Melbourne

There is another cost of graffiti, the human cost. Studies show that illegal graffiti gives the impression that a neighbourhood is unsafe or uncared for.  When this happens the community starts to live in fear and they start to feel that there are more serious crimes lurking in the background. As a result, businesses may close, causing a downward economic spiral.

Most taggers are young people who damage property for reasons of boredom, unemployment, anger or revenge. Others use tagging as a way to show defiance toward rules, the authorities or to draw attention to a ’cause’. Graffiti is often the first sign that gangs are taking over a neighbourhood.

If a neighbourhood is perceived to have been taken over by gangs, it gives the feeling that nobody cares. Likewise, it gives an image that crime is on the increase and the authorities have lost control. This is why it is important to remove graffiti as soon as possible.


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Tips to keep control of your neighbourhood

Firstly, it’s important that you, as part of a community, play a role to keep control of your neighbourhood. Keeping control of your neighbourhood will keep the costs to remove graffiti down. Some tips to keep the cost of graffiti in Melbourne, and your neighbourhood down include:

  • Reporting new graffiti and offenders as soon as possible.
  • Repairing and getting rid of graffiti ASAP to discourage further attacks. You can get a quote to quickly remove graffiti here.
  • Educate fellow residents and business owners that graffiti is vandalism and has no artistic merit.
  • Recognise the difference between street art, and graffiti. Graffiti is the marking of a building or structure without permission.
  • Invite your local community to keep a part of their area clean and graffiti-free.


The other costs

In different parts of Australia, many young graffiti artists suffer injuries every year. Some even die. An incident happened in Sydney on 11th January 2012.  Tre Toman, an 18-year-old apprentice plumber, was struck by a train while committing the act of tagging with two friends. He is still mourned by his family and friends to this day.

Vandalism is unacceptable on every level. It looks bad, it costs money, and it reduces the quality of life for the affected people. Plus it frightens those that are vulnerable to crime.

Other not so obvious costs of graffiti in Melbourne include:

  • That some graffiti artists steal their spray paint, so businesses suffer losses due to theft;
  • Student morale may be affected if schools are attacked by graffiti or other types of vandalism;
  • When public telephones are attacked and put out of order, those who have no phone – usually vulnerable community members – are left even more vulnerable. This is especially true during an emergency.



The other side of graffiti

However, graffiti is not so simple. Although it is considered to be ugly, expensive to remove, and dangerous for practitioners, it does have some benefits for some people:

  • It can look better than the surface it covers.
  • Some of the phrases are clever or funny.
  • Some members of the community see graffiti as art.

Then there is the politically motivated graffiti, carried out by graffiti artists who think they are fulfilling an important social function. Some graffiti artists consider graffiti as a form of self-expression.

Nevertheless, most people think the negatives of graffiti outweigh the positives.

What are your thoughts?



City of Melbourne

Community Crime Prevention, Victoria