January 07, 2007 12:00am
Exclusive: A GRAFFITI vandals superstore is operating under the noses of authorities in Melbourne.
The shop, called Giant, specialises in graffiti paraphernalia, even offering an out-of-hours service.
It boasts "Melbourne's largest range of aerosol paint", as well as nozzles designed for illegal scrawls.
Authorities are powerless to stop the trade under current laws.
The store also stocks graffiti magazines showcasing thousands of tags and scrawls on trains in Melbourne and around the world, as well as hooded and masked vandals brazenly posing as they deface public property.
Vandals profiled include two leaders of the notorious crew 70K, whom the Sunday Herald Sun has learned have extended their tagging spree to Britain.
A Giant store attendant told a reporter yesterday: "Fat caps (nozzles) are for illegal stuff like spray painting the sides of trains, when you are in a hurry.
"Obviously, this store is geared more towards graffiti than street art. Melbourne has a large underground graffiti scene for its size."
The North Melbourne store advertises itself on two of the city's biggest pro-graffiti website homepages. One shows more than 5000 acts of vandalism across the city, including 450 train attacks, and the second highlights scrawlings suburb by suburb.
The Giant shop's phone message includes a mobile number for people to call if they need paint in the night -- by appointment.
Giant owner Clarke Aaron admitting to advertising on graffiti websites, saying street art was a "great medium".
"We supply art materials. I'm not responsible for what people do with them. I'm not saying, 'Go paint graffiti'," Mr Aaron said.
State government spokesman Geoff Fraser said: "We do not support anything that encourages graffiti."
But he said that selling spray paint was not illegal.
As the annual graffiti clean-up cost approaches $100 million, calls are growing for stores to hide spray cans and ban their sale to under-18s.
RAGE (Residents Against Graffiti Everywhere) founder Steve Beardon said the Giant store should be closed.
"This is totally unacceptable," Mr Beardon said.
"The authorities need to take a stronger stance and stamp out operations like this which enable vandals to wreak havoc across the city."
At a "graffiti jam" in the CBD's Caledonian Lane yesterday, where businesses allow their walls to be painted, youths with spray cans did not want to be photographed at work.
A youth covering his face with one hand and brandishing a paint can in the other charged at the photographer, saying: "You can't take photographs -- some of what we do is illegal."
British police are closing in on two of Melbourne's worst graffiti vandals, who have fled the country and launched an international tagging spree.
Victorian and British police are tracking the leaders of the 70K graffiti crew, who are responsible for up to $1 million in graffiti damage.
The duo, who use the tags "Stan" and "Bonez", left Australia in late 2005 as anti-graffiti police prepared to arrest them.
Public comment is being sought on a government plan to tackle the graffiti scourge, including clamp-downs on people carrying spray cans on and near public transport and on private property.