Graffiti began in the early 1970’s on the trains of New York and Philadelphia. These vandals used spray paint to sign their tag, or signature name and design, on trains that would travel and be seen all over the city. Graffiti quickly spread from city to city and everywhere in between.

While some take their graffiti as an art form and can create beautiful and talented works, what we most often see is the vandalism of defiant and delinquent youth vandalising private property. Graffiti vandalism requires cheap, simple tools that can be easily purchased or shoplifted from a local craft or hardware store such as paint, sprayers brushes, and etching tools. Graffiti artists often target an area that is going to be highly visible and attention grabbing.

central station


Public Property

Graffiti artists often target public places that garner high levels of human traffic and therefore lands their work in the view of the most people. Like the original graffiti artists in the 1970’s, trains are still a prime target for vandals, as well as rail stations, subways, buses, bus stations, building walls, highway walls, and parks.

Public places that have an element of risk involved attract thrill-seeking vandals such as overpasses, bridges, water towers, and billboards. Small time and uninspired vandals often quickly tag easy to access things like trees, park benches, utility poles, traffic lights and road or traffic signs.

Graffiti vandals often tag public property as a form of rebellion and defiance against local authorities. They may chose their locations in an effort to taunt the authorities, choosing common places just to be a nuisance. They may continuously tag the same place after city authorities have removed the graffiti.


Private Places

Private properties can also be targets graffiti vandals. Private homes or business may become targets of graffiti vandals if the owner has had a disagreement or argument with the vandal at some point.

Vandals may target the houses of schoolmates, teachers, bosses, ex-friends or lovers, or anyone they want to get revenge on. A vandal may target a businesses that they had gotten fired from, had a bad experience with, or if they disagree with the business’ practices or ethics.

Private homes and businesses may also be targeted if they have been left uninhabited for extended periods of time, seem to be abandoned, are lacking in security, or for no other reason than the vandal happened to chose it at random.



As earlier mentioned, trains and buses are often a high priority target by vandals do to their mobility and the amount of eyesight they come in contact with. Graffiti vandals may also target personal vehicles.

While a personal vehicle may be targeted at random, especially if it is parked on a city street or public lot, personal vehicles are often targeted as a means of carrying out a personal grudge. The vandal of a personal vehicle will use the graffiti to inscribe a significant message as opposed to a graffiti tag.

For example, instead of a typical graffiti signature you would find on a freeway overpass, a vandal of a personal vehicle may write “Cheater” on the car of an ex-lover that had cheated during their relationship.

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