Reports of vandalism have been made in the Bega Valley every day for the past three weeks, with a recent incident at a Bermagui park seeing its toilet block damaged, grounds littered, and a nearby former café appearing to have been smashed with a sledgehammer.
Bega Valley Shire Council estimates vandalism costs the shire more than $10,000 every year, although notes the cost is hard to measure and is likely to be higher.
Council’s acting works and assets manager Gary Louie said there had been a notable increase in reported vandalism across the shire in the past eight months.
“In the last three weeks alone we’ve had notification of vandalism on a daily basis,” he said.
“Not only does this incur costs to replace damaged infrastructure and divert council crews from other work, it significantly impacts on our residents’ and visitors’ enjoyment of our shire.”
One recent incident was at Apex Park in Bermagui earlier in January when the toilet block was vandalised with graffiti, paper towel holders were ripped off the walls, toilets were blocked with sticks and paper towels, sink s-bends were stolen, doors kicked in and walls damaged.
Toilet paper was also thrown around the park, plastic bottles were burnt on barbecues, park gates were bent and had their hinges broken, and broken bottles were strewn around the outdoor table settings.
“Vandals were also seen smashing the former Saltwater Café with a sledgehammer,” a council spokesperson said.
“This behaviour is putting public safety at risk and wasting valuable council time and resources in cleaning and repairs.”
Mr Louie said that over the last three weeks council’s teams spent about eight labour hours, plus equipment and materials, addressing vandalism each week.
These other incidents include melting plastic bottles on barbeques, removing or damaging signage, damaging or destroying trees and vegetation, defacing toilet blocks with graffiti, destroying taps and basins, tipping over and emptying sanitary bins, while also breaking or tampering with playground equipment and defacing it with graffiti.
Mr Louie said while council has closed-circuit television (CCTV) at some of facilities, it is not at every park or piece of infrastructure.
“Installing CCTV at every location would be very costly and must always be balanced with privacy and be in the public interest,” he said.
“Council does not currently have any plans to install any additional CCTV equipment.”