Teens charged over graffiti spree after schools tip-off

TWO teenagers have been accused of spray painting 75 separate graffiti tags in a single night after going on a two-mile vandalism spree.

• School pupils helped police track their suspects through the use of distinctive tags.

The 17-year-olds were traced by police after officers visited schools in the Bonaly, Colinton and Oxgangs area where the graffiti appeared.

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Pupils were able to point to the suspects from the distinctive tags - AERO, SB and DARE - which were sprayed on bus stops, road signs and telephone boxes.

Private property was also damaged, including fences, walls and garage doors.

The teenagers were among 38 alleged offenders charged with a total of 144 vandalism offences during a police crackdown in recent months.

Almost all of the individuals arrested were aged between 12 and 17, and they have been linked to damage estimated to be worth 27,500.

Six teens were also charged with culpable and reckless conduct after being caught throwing stones and other objects off bridges on to passing buses in Wester Hailes during May. A 12-year-old boy was the youngest to be charged.

Inspector Irene Ralston, from Wester Hailes police station, said: "Vandalism is often difficult to detect due to a lack of witnesses. We decided to make an effort to reduce the problem by putting a dedicated officer to study the offences, looking for patterns and trying to come up with positive lines of inquiry for an enforcement team to look at.

"We also have school link officers and they were able to speak to the pupils and identify those who could be responsible for specific tags.

"The people involved were not 'graffiti artists' as you might see. They were vandals simply spraying their tags on to a number of places. It's a small hardcore who are responsible for carrying this out on a widespread basis."

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The teens charged with 75 offences were arrested on July 15 following the vandal attacks in the previous month.

In recent months, teenagers were arrested for spraying the tags NTB and GETS in Wester Hailes, Gorgie and Dalry, while arrests were also made over graffiti at the Wester Hailes Education Centre, the play park at Calder Gardens and various underpasses in Calder Road.

Councillor Paul Edie, the city's community safety leader, said: "Vandalism has a negative impact on local communities and it is encouraging to see that the police are cracking down in this area. We work with the police to remove graffiti as quickly as possible."

Other vandal attacks which led to arrests included 12 vehicles parked in the Calder and Baberton Mains area which had wing mirrors kicked off and windows smashed.

Five private hire vehicles in the Bankhead Industrial Estate had windows broken and panels dented while windows were smashed at both the Wester Hailes Education Centre and the Community Help and Advice Initiative building.

Arrests were made over broken windows at Sighthill Primary School along with damage to a vehicle in its car park.

Under the Criminal Law (Consolidation) Scotland Act a vandalism charge carries a maximum sentence of three months for first offenders and six months for any subsequent offence. Suspects could be subject to multiple charges.

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