Syd ney Trains Sniffing Out Graffiti Thugs

Graffiti vandals are being arrested within moments of defacing train interiors, with a trial of new technology that automatically detects either spray paint or permanent marker, enabling Sydney Trains to track and record offenders in real time.

The trial is known as Mousetrap – because it catches vandals in the act.

An undisclosed number of Sydney Trains have been fitted with the detection system, which has so far led to the arrest of more than 30 offenders.

Mousetrap works by using an electronic chemical sensor which detects the vapour of both spray paint and marker pens.  Live CCTV records and provides images directly to Sydney Trains staff.

The Police Transport Command (PTC) can then be dispatched to quickly locate and arrest the vandals.

“Mousetrap is our latest weapon in the war against graffiti thugs damaging our trains. Vandals won’t know where and they won’t know when we’re watching,” Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance said.

The system is in its early stages of trial and evaluation but Sydney Trains is confident of the initial results.

“We know it’s early days for Mousetrap but its success has been in allowing Sydney Trains to move from a strategy of removing graffiti to one where we stop it as it happens,” Sydney Trains Chief Executive Howard Collins said.

“Our message to graffiti vandals is clear: Spray the paint and run the risk.”

Removing graffiti from the Sydney Trains network cost taxpayers $34 million last financial year, up from $30 million the year before.

“Our customers hate it – it’s one of the top customer complaints and cleaners work hard to remove about 11,000 tags from trains each month.”

“We know customers feel unsafe when they are using a train which is covered in graffiti and offenders often place themselves and others in danger by trespassing on the railway or being somewhere they shouldn’t.

“I am determined to reduce the amount of graffiti vandalism on our train network and making trains a more attractive option for customers,” Mr Constance said.

**CCTV footage is available on condition the identity of police and offenders is pixilated

Sydney Trains graffiti reduction strategy also includes:

  • Regularly painting out graffiti on rail corridors when maintenance is underway
  • Environmental design such as planting vegetation which makes it difficult for vandals to access  walls, trains and corridor infrastructure
  • Engineering modifications such as increased use of graffiti resistant surfaces and replaceable film on interior train windows
  • Upgrades to CCTV monitoring systems on trains and stations and using this capability to increased effect
  • Improved lighting
  • Security guards and patrols