DEADLY GAME OF TAG – Saturday March 9 2013

– Brazen graffiti gangs are holding up commuters by forcing trains to stop so they can get their spray-can kicks.
The alarming trend – dubbed “in runnings”, as the incidents occur when the trains are in service – involves vandals tripping red lights, bringing trains to a halt and hiving them the opportunity to spray-paint.
Metro statistics seen by the Herald Sun – after six weeks of trying to obtain them – reveal there were 518 “in runnings” last year and 531 in 2011 – up from 347 in 2010.
Almost 100 have been recorded so far this year, an indication that the craze is growing.
Police sources said it was only a matter of time before someone would be killed. “This graffiti isn’t about art. It’s about causing maximum damage and inconvenience to as many people as possible,” a source said.
Sometimes drivers discover the sabotaged signals, the murals, or even catch vandals in the act, while investigating their hold- up.
Vandals also target known locations where trains stop for signals, and isolated end-of-line platforms. Police sources said “in runnings” gave vandals the added kick of seeing their murals and tags travelling around the network until he train was cleaned – and a chance to photograph them and post the images online.
They said the trend emerged after Metro staff and police increased CCTVs and patrols at sidings, forcing vandals to look for new alternatives.
In one of the most brazen incidents, a graffiti gang wearing balaclavas pulled an emergency handle to stop a Glen Waverley train at Heyington last year. They threatened the driver when he went to investigate.
Transit CIU Senior Sergeant Brian Montgomery said “in runnings” wee enormously dangerous as vandals were on live tracks where trains ran both ways.
A specialist transit graffiti team is using intelligence to target hot spots and known offenders, who face up to 10 years’ jail.
Metro spokeswoman Larisa Tait said the operator spent $913,000 a year removing graffiti from trains. “This practice is not only dangerous, it is costly and it’s disrupts the travel for thousands of out customers,” she said – Amelia Harris


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