"If you are caught, you will be prosecuted."
That’s the message from Gardaí in Cork, who hope that the recent prosecution in relation to graffiti will help deter others from vandalising businesses and homes in the city.
Last Wednesday, a young man was prosecuted at Cork District Court for causing criminal damage by spraying graffiti on a wall on Hanover Street.
He pleaded guilty to a charge of causing criminal damage on May 23 at Hanover Street and was fined.
"You are talking about a reasonably small group of individuals who are doing a lot of the graffiti," said Stewart Philpott, Head of Community Policing in Cork.
"So if you take one or two of them out of the mix, it will send a message out to the group that it won’t be tolerated."
Mr Philpott said the problem of graffiti had noticeably worsened earlier this year.
“In the last six months it really reared its head again, we don’t know why. There was one particular tag that seemed to be everywhere. It was a very simple one, so we don’t were lots of people doing it.
"We have put together a database of as many of the tags as we can."
In addition to prosecution, the Gardaí are also looking at other ways to deter the activity, including designating areas where graffiti is allowed.
"We have had meetings with City Council and other stakeholders, business associations and people like that. Before, there were certain areas designated as graffiti-friendly. White Street Car Park was one but that is due to be developed.
"While the Council hasn’t committed to the idea, or given any indication as to when, they have said that needs to be done and they would look at it."
In the meantime, the advice from Gardaí is for property owners to try and make it as difficult for the vandals.
"Lighting is a big thing, as is CCTV. Make it obvious that they are being recorded. Make it as difficult as possible for them."