A St. John's city councillor says the courts were too lenient when it came to sentencing a man who sprayed graffiti on multiple city properties.

Coun. Tom Hann said every time someone vandalizes city property, it costs the taxpayers money.

He added its costs the city budget around $20,000 each year for the sole purpose of cleaning up graffiti.

"The people who get caught, instead of getting a suspended sentence or put on probation, I think the people who are caught and charged by the

[Royal Newfoundland Constabulary] should have to pay the cost of removing it," Hann said.
nl-graffiti-tag-20121203

The graffiti left at a Signal Hill platform in 2013 identifies the sprayed message as the work of RC, or Rong Crew. (Zach Goudie/CBC )

Last summer, Josh Ducey, Shane Mills and David Legge, members of the graffiti group 'Rong Crew,' were charged with vandalism for defacing public structures with their graffiti.

All three pleaded guilty, and were given conditional or suspended sentences.

Hann said he didn't want to question court rulings, but thinks the sentences should have been much harsher.

"I think the heavy hand of the law should come down on them, and I think the fine should be a lot more," he said.

Artistic outlet best solution

Rong Crew members were also accused of vandalizing a number of signs owned by real estate agent Chris Vardy.

Vardy said the damage done to his signs cost him thousands of dollars, but stricter punishment may not be the best solution.

Chris Vardy

Chris Vardy, who lost thousands of dollars when some of his signs were vandalized, says harsh punishments aren't the best solution to stopping vandalism. (CBC)

"I don't think incarceration or huge fines is going to do it, but I think there's help there if a number of bodies sat around a table with these folks and say, 'What can we do to help you?'"

He said the people defacing property could be potentially great artists, and finding a better way for them to get their work out may be the best way to deter them from damaging private and public properties.

Both Hann and Vardy said putting up a designated area for graffiti artists to utilize may be the best course of action.