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Sydney Trains sniffs out graffiti vandals with Mousetrap sensors

Sydney Trains sniffs out graff...
Mousetrap technology is being used to stop graffiti vandalism of trains (Photo: Shutterstock)
Mousetrap technology is being used to stop graffiti vandalism of trains (Photo: Shutterstock)
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Mousetrap technology is being used to stop graffiti vandalism of trains (Photo: Shutterstock)
Mousetrap technology is being used to stop graffiti vandalism of trains (Photo: Shutterstock)

Australia's Sydney Trains has adopted a new approach to tackling vandalism, trialling new technology designed to quickly alert staff to offenders by sniffing out spray paint vapor. While only in its infancy, the project, which know as "Mousetrap," has already produced some promising results.

Vandalism is an ongoing problem for rail companies, but it's usually difficult to catch offenders in the act. According to Sydney Trains, its workers have to remove some 11,000 tags from trains every month. In 2014, the removal of graffiti from the company's carriages racked up a bill of AUS$34 million (US$27 million) – an increase of more than 13 percent over the previous year.

To tackle the issue, the company started a new trial program, using electronic chemical sensors that detect vapor from spray paints and marker pens to catch vandals at the scene of the crime. Once detected, images captured from live CCTV cameras at the location are forwarded to Sydney Trains staff, allowing them to quickly pass those on to the Police Transport Command (PTC).

According the Sydney Trains, the trial is still in the early stages, but the results so far are very positive. The sensors have been fitted to an undisclosed number of trains, and have so far led to more than 30 arrests.

"We know it’s early days for Mousetrap but its success has been in allowing Sydney Trains to move from a strategy of removing graffiti to one where we stop it as it happens," says Sydney Trains Chief Executive Howard Collins."Our message to graffiti vandals is clear: Spray the paint and run the risk."

Source: Sydney Trains

Bob Flint
I believe pro taggers also use brushes, and cans of paint, much faster, and lasts longer, & with the thicker application harder to remove.
Kim Patrick
Isn't there a coating you could apply to the trains exterior that would repel paint and markers? The paint/marker would not adhere to the surface thus making the graffiti artist move on to more favorable surfaces.
Steven Forth
Of course the trains look a lot better with the grafitti. Maybe a simpler solution is to encourage the artists.
Here's a better idea. Plant trees/vines to hide it, instead of waste everyones time removing it, and have non-ugly trains to start with. Hint: no tagger tags anothers work.
What idiot calls this "vandalism" ? The graffiti itself is *undoing* the "blandalism" forced upon us by the unthinking train companies in the first place.
If the painter does not have the permission of the owner of the property then this is indeed VANDALISM.
Validate these vandals, then they go on to deface national park and wilderness sites.
I hope this technology is put to use here in the US.
It is a big problem and a hassle to remove graffiti from the trains. These sensors that detect paint fuses on the trains are a great idea. Now the police can be there while the vandals are still in the act and arrest them.
I think it would be a lot cheaper just to set up competition to tagging the trains...promote tagging...allow it to happen the paint does NOT hinder the performance of the just makes it more nicer to look at than just the boring drab white...