Youths are being caught by police in record numbers across the Hunter for vandalism and malicious damage, but the repair bills for councils and businesses continue to skyrocket.
Despite a 33per cent increase in the number of juveniles proceeded against by police for malicious damage over the past three years, Hunter councils continue to face an uphill battle to keep property safe.
Over the past five years Lower Hunter residents have had to pay more than $32million for malicious and senseless damage to council and railway property.
According to the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, it is ‘‘very common’’ for police to have no suspects in property crimes.
A bureau spokeswoman said malicious damage to property offences traditionally had a low clear-up rate.
Newcastle Business Chamber chief executive officer Peter Shinnick said many business owners could no longer get insurance because they had been hit repeatedly by ‘‘idiots’’ smashing windows and spray-painting buildings.
Mr Shinnick said the repair bill would amount to millions each year.
According to the bureau, the Newcastle local government area is the second worst in the state for graffiti attacks, with the biggest targets trains, offices, businesses, bus shelters and toilets.
Lake Macquarie local government area consistently had the most youths caught by police for malicious damage over the past three financial years, with 452 juveniles proceeded against.
Over the same period 282 offenders were caught in Newcastle.