ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

Graf­fiti at­tacks are rife in Emer­ton and ten­ants are sick of clean­ing up the mess. But they know fight­ing it alone is not work­ing. They’ve called on the com­mu­nity to unite against the is­sue bring­ing the area down.

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - FRONT PAGE - Alison Bald­ing

AS THE town’s main shop­ping strip drowns in a sea of graf­fiti, ten­ants are plead­ing for as­sis­tance.

Lat­est fig­ures from the Bureau of Crime Sta­tis­tics show an av­er­age of three cases of ma­li­cious dam­age are com­mit­ted a day in the 2770 post­code, with 1164 in­ci­dents re­ported in the 12 months since June last year.

Al­though it rep­re­sents a 3.8 per cent de­cline on the pre­vi­ous pe­riod, cases of ma­li­cious dam­age to re­tail and whole­sale busi­nesses (70) re­main stable.

Christ Church pas­tor Efren Lozano said the over­whelm­ing graf­fiti at­tacks on the build­ings oc­cu­pied by the church and busi­nesses on Po­pon­detta Rd were giv­ing the area a “bad name”.

“It’s dis­ap­point­ing to see this hap­pen, and it is a com­mu­nity is­sue,” he said.

“Ev­ery­one is re­spon­si­ble and we all need to be try­ing to stop this.

“It is giv­ing the place a bad name. The peo­ple here are good peo­ple.”

Res­i­dents have taken to Face­book liken­ing the com­mer­cial strip to a “ghetto”.

And re­cently, the sub­urb was nom­i­nated in The Stan­dard’s Neigh­bour­hood Res­cue cam­paign.

Mr Lozano said he has ap­proached po­lice, Black­town Coun­cil and sur­round­ing schools for help and, de­spite the un­sightly at­tacks, he was con­cerned the van­dals were putting their lives at risk.

“We have handed over CCTV footage (to po­lice) so, hope­fully, they can catch those re­spon­si­ble,” he said.

Bill An­ton, from nearby take­away store Oz Chicken, said he was “fed up” with the con­stant van­dal­ism at­tacks.

“It’s bloody ter­ri­ble. I am sick of paint­ing over it all the time,” he said.

Mt Druitt real es­tate agent Ben Price said he had man­aged two com­mer­cial prop­er­ties in Mount St, Mt Druitt, where graf­fiti was once “a huge prob­lem”, in­clud­ing Un­cle Buck’s and Daniel Thomas Plaza.

“One way we over­came it was, ev­ery day new graf­fiti showed up, we would take it off im­me­di­ately,” he said.

“It was so ex­pen­sive at first but ... now we very rarely have any to take down.”

Mt Druitt crime preven­tion of­fi­cer Se­nior Con­sta­ble Paul Bates agreed “rapid re­moval” was im­por­tant.

Black­town Coun­cil con­tin­ues to spend $1.2m of ratepay­ers’ money across the lo­cal gov­ern­ment area in clean­ing up and ed­u­cat­ing against graf­fiti.

It also of­fers sig­nif­i­cant fi­nan­cial re­wards to those who dob in van­dals and pro­vide in­for­ma­tion, which leads to a suc­cess­ful pros­e­cu­tion.

It’s dis­ap­point­ing to see this hap­pen, and it is a com­mu­nity is­sue.

– PAS­TOR EFREN LOZANO

Pic­ture: MATT SUL­LI­VAN

One in Christ pas­tors Jessie Mal­i­bi­ran and Efren Lozano are fed up with the graf­fiti in Emer­ton and (inset) a young per­son is caught on CCTV van­dal­is­ing the area.

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