A serial tagger over the Christmas break in Levin was caught, thanks to the vigilance of a member of the public.

It didn't need a forensic examination to see that one offender - given the style, name and type of paint used - had gone on a vandalism spree on both public and private property.

Homes, businesses and a church had been hit, while roadside signs and lampposts were also targeted.

Police acting senior sergeant Beth Purcell said the arrest was due to the quick thinking of a member of the public who saw the vandal at work on the Levin Mitre 10 store building in Queen Street and phoned police straight away.


"We actually managed to catch the offender rather quickly despite his attempts to evade police," she said.

She applauded the prompt phone call to police as it was otherwise hard to catch a vandal a tie them to a tag.

"We haven't had a problem for quite some time so it was really good we were able to get on to it so quickly," she said.

"It helps. It identifies their tag."

A 22-year-old male was charged with willfully damaging property and was to appear in the Levin District Court.

Sgt Purcell said she also encouraged shop-keepers selling cans of spray paint to contact police or note down details should a customer purchase unusual amounts of spray paint regularly.

Horowhenua District Council acting community development manager Sam Hutcheson said each year damage to council property came at a cost to ratepayers and also soaked up considerable council staff and contractor time.

While there was an increase in the amount of graffiti reported recently, that was not unusual during holiday periods.


Cleaning up graffiti on private property is ultimately the responsibility of the property owner, although HDC could assist property owners to remove graffiti.

HDC worked with Keep Horowhenua Beautiful, who had a team of 'Tag Busters', and materials in graffiti removal kits used by Tag Busters was financed with the support of local business Resene.

If someone wanted help removing graffiti from their property HDC alerted Keep Horowhenua Beautiful (KHB).

KHB chairperson Cr Victoria Kaye-Simmons said it was important that people were vigilant and reported any tagging promptly.

"We appreciate the extra eyes we have in and around our district who almost immediately contact Council or Keep Horowhenua Beautiful members regarding tagging in and around our towns," she said.

"Businesses that remove tagging quickly to maintain a graffiti-free district are to be commended. The support and efforts of individual home owners are also greatly appreciated."

"What Keep Horowhenua Beautiful would like to see happen in the future is a breakdown of the extra cost to the ratepayer of removing tagging and litter (fly tipping)."

"Separating these out of the budget would help with data collection around NZ. All councils which don't already do this should consider it."

The Horowhenua District Council Facebook page showed photographs of the graffiti, although removed some of the pictures after it was noticed they contained profanities.

Anyone who saw a tagger or someone in the act of tagging was urged to ring Levin Police on 366-0500, and if possible provide some photographic evidence.

The HDC Facebook page attempted to address the criminals on a personal level and offer them guidance and advice.

"If you're a budding graffiti artist reading this, check out the street art MR G Hoete Art has achieved without disrespecting property," it said.