Acid-based graffiti plagues Burnaby stores
A restaurant with with acid-based graffiti on the window in Burnaby, B.C. on Tuesday January 14, 2014. The City of Burnaby is trying to convince arts and crafts suppliers to keep their glass etching products behind lock and key while attempting to get to the bottom of a spate of vandalized windows smeared with acid-based graffiti. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)
Burnaby City Hall wants arts and crafts suppliers to lock up their glass-etching products as municipal officials investigate a spate of vandalized windows smeared with acid-based graffiti.
City anti-graffiti coordinator Kathy Wipf said the problem of teenaged vandals using acid-filled markers to draw on windows resurfaced again in September, when she discovered local art supply stores had put the products back on shelves.
She had made prior arrangements with larger art suppliers to lock up the glass-etching materials — which go for about $70 each — as they are a hot commodity for thieves. But the supplies have returned.
Between September and now, there have been at least 10 cases, Wipf said. The number is a small portion of the more than 300 instances of graffiti recorded in 2013. However, unlike paint-based graffiti, corroded glass must be replaced and the damage can’t simply be cleaned off.
“The problem with etching is they can do it so quickly,” she said. “They put the etch in a bingo dauber … and they can do three windows without anybody noticing. It doesn’t eat through the glass right away.”
The incidents have been reported to RCMP. Wipf believes there are up to four suspects in the city prolifically “tagging” with acid.
“Usually they’re gang logos, people marking their territory,” said Wayne Marklund, president of Burnaby-based Candu Glass Limited.
He said he receives calls about etched-glass vandalism about once per month and that vandals usually target storefront glass. Each panel of glass can cost $800 or more to replace.
“There are alternatives — security film that can be placed outside the glass — so when glass is etched it can be peeled off.”
Wipf said a glass tagger in action looks similar to someone drawing on a window with a marker and that police should be called in those cases.