Vandals and thieves caused $1.4 million of repairs and replacements in Auckland's city parks and sports fields in the past 12 months, and civic leaders say a park-friendly version of neighbourhood watch is needed to dob them in.
Auckland Council figures requested by the Herald show the costly side of acts of vandalism on public facilities - including smashed toilet pans, hand driers, doors, walls, plumbing, playground apparatus and vehicle tyres ripping up grass sports fields.
The $1.4 million spent on contractors to repair vandalism is on top of $4.7 million for cleaning up graffiti in civic places.
Parks, Recreation and Heritage Forum chairwoman Sandra Coney said the figure was for 4000 parks and excluded the more rural regional parks.
"It's disappointing and dispiriting because everything in our parks is paid for by ratepayers for the enjoyment of the public," she said. "It would be great if more residents became guardians of their local parks to increase security. The council can shut the gates but the people can be its eyes."
A centralised system for reporting vandalism was being set up and would help "bring the miscreants to account", said Community Safety Forum chairman George Wood.
He said the council was trying to counter the theft of plaques, metal railings, copper plumbing, stormwater drain covers and grates - items fetching high prices when sold as scrap metal.
On the graffiti front, Mr Wood said he and forum deputy chairman Calum Penrose believed the number of attacks - on about 300,000 sites - was declining and would continue to do so under the council's new graffiti plan.
The $4.7 million in the budget for this year was less than previous years and reflected the work of the council, its cleaning providers, volunteers and rail and road transport agencies.By Wayne Thompson Email Wayne