TWO youths who daubed scores of graffiti symbols across Fareham left taxpayers with a £13,000 clean-up bill.
Joe Riddett and Clay Young admitted spray painting their personal symbols, known as tags, 77 times between them during March this year.
They both pleaded guilty to eight counts of criminal damage during their first appearance at Fareham Youth Court.
The court heard how Riddett with his tag ‘Seek’ and Young with his tag ‘TNO’, or ‘Trust No-One,’ had targeted a business at Fort Fareham, Fareham Town Football Club’s ground at Cams Alders, numerous council properties, signs, bins and bus shelters as well as many more walls and garages of homes.
They were caught after an operation by police and the council trying to find who was responsible for vandalism that had suddenly appeared, mostly in south and west Fareham.
On March 16, two boys were caught on CCTV spray-painting a telephone box in Bishopsfield Road, with one wearing a distinctive jacket.
Ten days later an unmarked police car on patrol in The Avenue, Fareham, passed two youths at 1.30am, one of whom was wearing the same jacket, which turned out to be Riddett.
The officers were able to grab Young, 17.
Riddett, 16, attempted to flee, but was caught and six paint cans were found on them or dumped by Riddett as he ran.
Both teenagers expressed regret for their crimes.
Chairwoman of the bench Susan Hewett said: ‘You have learnt a lesson the hard way and the difficult way.’
They were each given a nine-month referral order and ordered to pay £55 costs.
Councillor Arthur Mandry, in charge of personal protection matters for Fareham Borough Council, said: ‘If we didn’t need to budget for things like this, it’s money we could spend elsewhere.
‘This is £13,000 down the pan. Why should local authorities and private companies have to fund the clean-up? Graffiti is a damned nuisance.
‘I hope it’s a salutary lesson for them.’
Fareham West Sergeant Aaron Freemantle said: ‘Hopefully this will send out a message that it’s not OK to tag and that if you vandalise like this you will be punished.
‘It’s not pleasant – the extent of the damage in this case was quite extensive and it does effect people’s lives.’