Cops, community join forces to end vandalism at Alstonville
GRAFFITI-spraying vandals have caused $100,000 worth of damage in Alstonville in recent years, but the community has a message for them: You will be caught.
The cost - and the clean up - has fallen to business owners and Ballina Shire Council.
But now police, the Chamber of Commerce, residents and council workers are rallying to put an end to the "prolific" vandalism.
Police have arrested one man in connection with recent vandal attacks.
The 19-year-old, whose guilt or innocence has yet to be decided by the courts, has been charged with 15 offences, including 11 counts of destroy or damage property; possess graffiti implement; possess prohibited drug; and goods in custody.
Alstonville Wollongbar Chamber of Commerce president, Richard Lutze, said the community was sick of constant tagging and graffiti on their buildings.
"We've been looking for solutions to this problem for about three years, after one night when every building in town was tagged," he said.
"It was a shock to the system to see that.
"About six months ago it (the graffiti) started to get really bad.
"People describe this sort of vandalism as a victimless crime, but it costs us time and money."
LJ Hooker Alstonville principal Richard Campbell, who represents landlords, said they started encouraging businesses to take photos of vandalism and graffiti.
"We started sending those photos to the police," he said.
"We've also suggested that businesses install CCTV, and there are now cameras at the Plaza and in Main Street.
"Since the bypass opened, a lot more people are getting out and about in the village and enjoying the atmosphere and cafe culture.
"We want it to look good and for people to feel safe."
The installation of CCTV was praised by police, and Mr Lutze said he was told it was the best way to ensure those responsible would be held to account.
"It means the police can do something," he said.
Ballina Shire councillor Paul Worth - who also owns businesses in the CBD - said prevention was better than the ongoing clean ups.
"We still have CCTV footage of people responsible for some of the graffiti," he said.
"We will give the details to the police.
"These people are on notice - they will be charged.
"We want to deter people from vandalising our town, and we aren't mucking around on this issue."