Graffiti kids hide behind bala-hoodie
Geoff Chambers From: The Daily Telegraph June 28, 2010 12:00AM
SENIOR police have slammed a graffiti competition that could flood Sydney streets with thousands of free spraycans.
The All Ironlak Graffiti Competition is giving away more than 1300 spraycans for what it deems the "best" wall of graffiti.
The same company has also become embroiled in controversy by giving away zip-up balaclava hoodies to its customers.
A Lake Macquarie shopping centre banned hoodies this month after a rise in graffiti vandalism.
Deputy Commissioner Dave Owens said having the 1300 spraycans on Sydney streets could promote a black market for under-age graffiti vandals.
"We are keeping a very close eye on this competition for obvious reasons," Mr Owens said.
"People must remember that if you are under the age of 18 then it's illegal to purchase or possess spray cans. It's also an offence to supply the cans.
"It's illegal for a good reason - the public wants a quality of life and any graffiti vandalism is considered malicious damage."
Mr Owens also attacked the zip-up balaclava hoodies, and said they were used by vandals to cover their faces and avoid being identified by CCTV cameras.
"I question a company that sells hoodies with your face blackened using the balaclava zips. They are designed like that for a reason," he said.
Mr Owens said the competition could not be banned because it was "technically" not illegal.
"Some of these graffiti artists are talented but they can't do their work on people's property," he said. "These days you see a new Colorbond fence go up and within 24 hours it's tagged."
NSW councils and private companies spend more than $100 million a year obliterating graffiti.
Police are now using Facebook and a council-operated dob-in-a-graffiti hotline to catch vandals.
The Ironlak competition has been promoted as "get busy with Ironlak and win a massive paint stash".
AVT Paints, the agent for Ironlak in Australia, last night rejected the claims that its competition would promote illegal spraypainting.
A spokesman said entrants should be respected for their hard work, with each spending up to 10 hours on an individual piece.
"We are aiming to support legal graffiti. Our intention is to not promote illegal graffiti," he said. "If we get an entry that comes through and it is blatantly illegal and has been done without the owner's permission, it is disqualified from winning."
For the Best Production and Best Piece categories, entrants must take a photo of their submission with a can of the company's spraypaint in the frame.
The AVT spokesman laughed off police concerns about the zip-up hoodies.
"They are a popular style of jumper," he said.
"Our product goes across the globe so if you live in a cold climate, the balaclava hoodie is pretty practical."