The police have conducted a major operation to dismantle a graffiti network that have been attacking the public transport network in Melbourne for over a year now. The alleged vandals have perpetuated over 145 assaults causing expenses over $100,000 in graffiti removal since March 2017.
The police executed nine warrants in five suburbs across the west of Melbourne, including Tarneit, Truganina, Altona, West Footscray and Yarraville, as well as Seaford in the southeast and Brunswick in the north. On a Monday morning nine people were arrested and they are expected to face three hundred charges including trespassing, endangering life, burglary and criminal damage.
It all started in December 2017 when an in-service train from the Pakenham line was impeded to continue its way around until 6:30am and three of the carriages were vandalised, the incident started on the disused General Motors Railway.
Andrew Gustke, Acting Superintendent commented on the importance of stopping these kind of offences because some people believe there is no victims in crimes like this, but the reality is that it is an organised criminal damage than can cause delays to commuters and also have serious consequences when they try to stop trains in their track, which could put lives at risk not only the offender but passengers too.
Gustke also mentioned that they have seen serious injuries and even deaths therefore police are taking this matter with an extreme seriousness. It also represents a great amount of costs from taxpayers that must be poured into graffiti removal, to maintaining the tracks and trains in adequate conditions.
Additionally, he mentioned that graffiti is usually the entrance for much more serious crimes such as robbery or even armed robbery. Young people can get easily caught in a culture of crime when they start tagging in prohibited places. This is also one of the main reasons why the prompt removal of graffiti could also reduce the chances of new offences occurring. If a place has been trespassed, tagged and it is not removed quickly than it is more likely that vandals commit new offences within the same area and the costs become bigger and bigger.