Graffiti fine welcomed

By Callan Date
CASEY mayor Colin Butler has applauded a court’s decision to order a convicted graffiti vandal to pay more than $20,000 in restitution.
Cr Butler spoke after Chris John Major, 20, pleaded guilty in the Dandenong Magistrates’ Court earlier this month to criminal damage charges in relation to graffiti on trains and on public buildings and fences.
“Graffiti is a costly crime and the Casey community should not have to foot the bill of vandals or have to put up with their scrawl in our neighbourhoods,” Cr Butler said.
Major, of Narre Warren, was also sentenced to six months’ jail, suspended for 12 months.
Casey Response Unit (CRU) members were responsible for the investigation and subsequent arrest of Major on 26 February.
“Major is one of 10 people arrested and charged earlier this year for a total of more than $120,000 worth of criminal damage in the City of Casey and restitution costs from those found guilty will go towards cleaning up the damage,” he said.
Major was ordered to repay a total of $20,966 to Connex and Casey Council.
The court ordered Major pay Casey $15,996 with Connex eligible for $5000.
Acting Casey Inspector Bruce Kitchen said the result was due to the work of the CRU, based at Narre Warren Police station, with support from the Council’s graffiti working party which is working hard to call vandals to account.
“Managing graffiti is an ongoing challenge; however, the strong partnership between Victoria Police and the City of Casey to target this serious community issue is making headway by identifying perpetrators and bringing them to the courts,” Acting Insp Kitchen said.
“I’m hopeful that the severity of this fine will remind parents to take an interest in the activities of their young people and discourage them from engaging in this criminal activity.
“The court proceedings should make anyone considering committing vandalism think twice about their actions as the cost is certainly not worth the effort,” he said.
Residents are encouraged to report all instances of graffiti to council’s 24-hour graffiti hotline, 1800 VANDAL, or ring 000 in cases where vandals are still at the scene, Insp Kitchen said.
Casey introduced a graffiti management program in 2002.
An integral part of the program involves council staff photographing each incident of graffiti and entering it onto a database to help identify offenders and the cost of the damage incurred by their vandalism.
The database now holds thousands of images, which Victoria Police are using to link graffiti artists to crime scenes.