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Costs Of Graffiti In Australia

Cost Of Graffiti, Graffiti Vandalism, grafiti, graffitti

In the early 1990’s Western Australian State Governments attempted to address graffiti proliferation using various methods and management models.  Despite this public concern continues to grow and so does the burden of state-wide graffiti removal costs.  A tougher approach, which focuses considerable effort on offender management and behaviour, has now been adopted. A State Graffiti Taskforce has been established to deal with the problem.

Graffiti removal costs have been estimated at up to $30 million dollars per year within Western Australia.  However, this figure is likely grossly underestimated due to the difficulty in obtaining an accurate cost largely to the nature of graffiti offences, its reporting and removal.

In 2005, the cost of criminal damage Australia wide, which included but was not limited to graffiti vandalism, was estimated to be $1.58 billion annually. This estimate is likely to be a conservative one given that graffiti vandalism, like other forms of criminal damage, is not always reported to police. It also gives no consideration to the social cost of graffiti vandalism; in particular the impact on perceptions of safety and public amenity.  It is evident throughout Western Australia regardless of the social, economic or cultural status of the community that its persistence, spread and visibility have served to heighten the public’s sensitivity to it as a threat against civic order and safety in their community


It is estimated that it costs Australians half a billion dollars a year to clean up graffiti. The police are fighting an ongoing battle and the Public Transport Authority has resources in place with 1200 cameras spread through the system at stations and platforms.

According to the government, graffiti costs the NSW economy and taxpayers more than $100 million a year.

Graffiti defacing both public and private property is one of the most visible forms of crime and costs the community around $200 million each year.  Graffiti has emerged as a key priority in crime prevention for Australian states and territories. Through its research, the AIC has identified key issues in dealing with this crime together with strategies to combat its incidence.

Existing research suggests that graffiti can have a negative impact on community perceptions of safety and public amenity.

Although the real amount of money spent by communities, private property owners, small business and public agencies each year to repair, replace, and clean up property defaced by graffiti vandalism has yet to be definitively documented in Australia, Graffiti Hurts-Australia’s research indicates that Local Governments alone across Australia spend approx $260 million annually on graffiti vandalism removal.

The real impact that graffiti vandalism has on the fabric of the community and society itself cannot be measured in lost revenue and business. Graffiti vandalism in public areas sends a message to the community that the places where they live and work and the public transportation they use are no longer controlled by the agencies responsible. Its appearance in neighbourhoods is often perceived by residents and passers-by as a sign that a downward spiral has begun, even through this many not be true.

Costs Of Graffiti, Graffiti Costs, Vandalism, grafiti, graffitti
Cleaning Up Graffiti

A 2009 report indicates that the City of Mandurah continues to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each year cleaning graffiti and repairing vandalised property, with council statistics showing $250,000 being spent the last financial year. In the last six months alone the council has spent $120,000 removing graffiti from buildings and other structures and repairing parks and reserves.

A 2009 report states that last financial year the estimated cost of vandalism, including graffiti, to CityRail and other RailCorp property was around $48 million.

CityRail cleaning staff work tirelessly to remove graffiti every day so that trains can be returned to service, as quickly as possible. More than one million tags were removed from CityRail trains and stations last year.

In 2008, Hunter Valley businesses and government agencies were desperate for a solution to the growing graffiti epidemic which had cost almost $2.7 million in clean-up bills the past year alone.

The worst-hit areas were the Newcastle and Cardiff central business districts, where businesses say they spent a total of more than $1.5 million on removing graffiti tags and cleaning other damage.

Newcastle City Council spent $350,000 and Lake Macquarie Council $155,000 in the past 12 months to clean up graffiti.

And other councils in the Hunter Region have also had significant bills with Maitland and Port Stephens councils forking out $35,000 and $40,000 respectively to restore buildings attacked by graffiti vandals.

Moonee Valley acting mayor James Rankin said one way to tackle graffiti was to actively report offences so that they could be removed. The council allocates $113,0000 in the annual budget for graffiti removal costs.

The Australian Bureau oF Statistics report that 1 out of every 4 Australians commonly perceive graffiti as a vandalism problem.

While ratepayers are footing the cost for these attacks, businesses are also paying.

Hunter Business Chamber estimated the cost of graffiti to Newcastle businesses at more than $1 million a year and some Hunter Street businesses had been unable to get insurance because of repeated attacks by graffiti artists and vandals.

Cardiff Chamber of Commerce has calculated the cost to businesses in its CBD and say they spent about $670,000 in the past 12 months cleaning up graffiti.

Government agencies have likewise reported the high costs of removing graffiti.

Cost Of Graffiti, Graffiti Costs, Vandalism, Grafiti, Graffitti
Graffiti On Trains

RailCorp spent about $380,000 in the past financial year cleaning graffiti from its trains, stations and property in the Hunter Region.

Hunter Water spent $50,000 in the past year on graffiti removal despite setting up designated areas for graffiti artists to display their work.

Desperate councils are taking drastic measures to stop a $100-million-a-year vandalism scourge – including hiring private security to guard buildings overnight.

Ratepayers are being hit with six-figure graffiti cleaning bills and up to $350 per night for private security to guard potential targets.  Thousands more are being spent on websites, education, and “graffiti resistant” paint and tougher playground equipment.

The number of malicious damage incidents last year rose to 109,330 across NSW – a 13 per cent increase in five years. Sydney City, the western suburbs of Blacktown, Campbelltown, Penrith, Liverpool, Parramatta, Bankstown and Fairfield, and coastal cities including Newcastle, Wollongong, Lake Macquarie, Wyong and Gosford, are the hardest hit.

Sydney City spends about $3 million a year on graffiti removal, while Penrith pays $680,000 and Blacktown $700,000. Holroyd Council paid $170,000, The Hills spent $150,000 and Gosford spent $100,000.

All 152 NSW councils are investing in prevention, with Mosman City Council building a $120,000 vandal-proof fence at the Allan Border Oval and Manly City Council installing a graffiti-resistant playground at Seaforth Oval for $190,000.

Graffiti Removal Company, Graffiti Removal, Grafiti Removal, Remove Grafiti
Graffiti Eaters: Australia’s Premier Graffiti Removal Specialists

US Graffiti Statistics:

City of San Jose, CA spent approximately $2 million in 2006 fighting graffiti.

Pittsburgh, PA (population just over 300,000) spends around $350,000 annually for graffiti clean up.7-

Omaha, NE spends about $100,000 a year on graffiti removal (population just over 400,000).

In 2006, the Tennessee Department of Transportation spent more than $240,000 on removing graffiti along its roads and bridges.

Denver, CO and Milwaukee, WI, with similar populations-just over 550,000-each spend about $1 million annually

In Houston, TX (population just over 2 million), the city earmarked $2.2 million for cleanup of existing graffiti in 2006.

Chicago, IL budgeted $6.5 million in 2006 for graffiti removal and Graffiti Blasters, the city’s removal program (population a little over 2.8 million).

Las Vegas, NV with a population of about 1.7 million spends more than $3 million each year cleaning up graffiti.

Springdale (AR)  paid more than $15,000 in 2007 to remove graffiti around the city. Graffiti appeared on buildings, bridges, drainage ditches, signs, traffic boxes, streets and sidewalks. The reported incidents of graffiti climbed to 454 in 2007, compared with 220 in 2006.

Seattle Public Utilities spent about $1 million last year for graffiti enforcement, removal, education and outreach, while King County Metro Transit spent $734,000 last year to rid buses, tunnels, park and rides and bus shelters of graffiti.

Graffiti In Los Angeles

Graffiti Costs, Cost Of Graffiti, Vandalism, Graffitti, Grafiti
One Graffiti Painter Can Create $13,000 Of Damage In A Single Weekend

CalTrans spent $2.7m cleaning up graffiti along the city’s freeways.-Amount of graffiti (7,622,234 square feet)

The Los Angeles Office of Community Beautification estimates that it spends more than $7 million annually for graffiti abatement and cleanup costs.

Graffiti Removal cost LA County $30 Million (2007) Caltrans spent

MTA’s ”bomb’ painted on the concrete walls of the LA River cost $3.7 Million to remove due to the environmental hazards to the watershed.

$30, 661 was spent on surveillance cameras in San Fernando Tunnel that the city spent $36,000 on graffiti removal.

Graffiti Art Or Vandalism?

Graffitti, Grafiti, Graffiti As Art, Artistic Graffiti
Graffiti Art Or Eyesore?


Now the image below is definitely art… Not the graffiti – the artist – take a close look!

Man Hidden In Image
Take a close look – what do you see?!?!?


Graffiti Hurts

Graffiti 911 Blog


  1. Peter Petterson

    Such a great post I will be passing this on to our local council which has the same problems in removal of tags and the costs involved.

    I will also link this to a future post here on Anzac Bloggers Unite.


  2. Mark Mackenzie

    The costs of graffiti on the community can be huge in more ways than one.

    Unfortunately this week a young man with his entire life in front of him, lost his life trying to achieve recognition from his peers by spraying graffiti on a bridge.
    Why do they do it?
    What motivates them?

    Click on the hyperlink to read the Graffiti Eaters Testosterone theory for one theory.

    Click on the hyperlink to listen to the radio debate on the costs of graffiti and the various points of view.

    There are many ripple effects of graffiti that echoed around the nation with the story being debated on radio and in the press.


  3. peter petterson

    I think the costs continue to increase. The old Auckland City Council kept digitally photographed records on its website as proof and used them as evidence when people were taken to court charged with vandalism. All taggers have their own styles and signature.

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