Strata properties are not immune to the ugly act of graffiti vandalism and some buildings are unfortunately targeted by repeat vandals. Whether it is writing, drawings or scratching into surfaces, that’s vandalism. Without consent from the property owner, it is defacing private and/or public property, and that’s illegal.
Frustratingly, the onus to remove graffiti quickly and effectively falls to the Owners Corporation or Body Corporate. Whilst there are many companies offering graffiti removal services, cleaning the surface is only visually removing the issue.
In Western Australia, the State Government has demonstrated its commitment to reducing graffiti vandalism through its Tough on Graffiti initiatives.
The Graffiti Taskforce, comprising representatives from the WA Police Force, Local Government, Department of Justice and many more high-level agencies, was established to manage these initiatives with a zero-tolerance approach to graffiti vandalism.
The project even received a silver award in the police-led category of the 2017 Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Awards.
Some key elements identified in project findings, especially with relation to prevention, could easily be adopted for strata so residents can enjoy living in communities free of graffiti vandalism.
Landscaping to create natural graffiti resistant surfaces
Graffiti vandals target surfaces such as walls and fences because they provide a flat canvas to display tags and other markings. By planting plants, trees or shrubs to help cover these surfaces will help to reduce suitability for graffiti as the surface is no longer flat, and markings are often not recognisable.
Alternatively, planting a hedge or other dense vegetation immediately in front of a wall or fence to act as a barrier could inhibit access, especially if the vegetation has natural deterrents such as thorns or spikes.
Placement of vegetation is important. Any gaps between plants and the surface may provide a natural concealment for vandals to offend, and you don’t want to be encouraging vandalism.
Tips for graffiti prevention around your property
- Consider applying an anti-graffiti coating to surfaces to assist with fast removal if the area is not suitable for natural forms of surface protection, such as gardens;
- Store rubbish and recycle bins away from vulnerable surfaces/structures to prevent them being used as climbing tools or used as concealment;
- Install effective lighting, particularly around vulnerable surfaces; and
- Remove any graffiti markings as quickly as possible. The longer graffiti is on display, the greater the reward for the vandal and the more likely that location will continue to be targeted.
Reporting graffiti vandalism
Graffiti Hotlines have been set up nationally by local councils for residents and businesses. Call your local council, or check out their website, for further details on reporting graffiti vandalism.
Remember, if you need to contact the police, call:
- Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 to report information on a crime; or
- If the situation is urgent and requires police attendance, call 000.