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    May 12, 2014

    MRT graffiti: An inside job?

    A DETAILED inspection of the perimeter fence at the Bishan depot, where an SMRT train was discovered vandalised, found no sign of any breach of entry.

    This has raised the possibility that the act was an inside job, sources familiar with the investigation told The Straits Times yesterday.

    The train was apparently spray-painted with graffiti between 1am and 5am on Monday, while it was parked - the third such incident in four years at an SMRT train depot.

    The graffiti was spotted by staff monitoring CCTV cameras as the affected train was leaving the depot, said a source. It was then halted and withdrawn at around 5.30am, before it entered service.

    SMRT had installed the CCTV cameras after the second incident, in August 2011.

    Then, a vandalised train left the same depot in Bishan and had to be pulled back after a train officer saw that it had graffiti scrawled on its side.

    In the latest incident, a red scrawl with traces of white, measuring 3m long and 1m high, was found on a middle carriage of the train.

    A source told The Straits Times that it was "quite elaborate but looked incomplete".

    It was, however, not signed off - as is the norm for graffiti artists - and no wording could be made out from the paint job.

    The Straits Times understands that the train has since been scrubbed clean.

    CCTV footage had confirmed that the vandalised train did not carry any signs of vandalism when it ended its run the night before.

    SMRT and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) are now assisting with police investigations.

    They declined to comment further yesterday on the latest case.

    The first incident took place in May 2010 in Changi Depot.

    In both the first and second cases, vandals cut through a fence before spray-painting graffiti on a train.

    SMRT was fined $250,000 by the LTA for the breaches. Shortly after, it replaced two security contractors and engaged Certis Cisco to guard its stations and train depots.

    The rail operator also completed the installation of reinforced steel fences and intrusion detection systems at its Ulu Pandan, Changi and Bishan depots. The fences are fitted with sensors, surveillance cameras and lighting to detect would-be intruders.

    Member of Parliament Seng Han Thong, who is deputy chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport, yesterday questioned how the latest incident could have happened given the beefed-up security. "Are key areas like where the trains are parked also covered by CCTV and patrols? Security has to be enhanced further."

    Senior Minister of State for Law and Education Indranee Rajah yesterday expressed her disapproval over the latest incident and another case of vandalism at a Toa Payoh block rooftop, reported on Wednesday.

    "You don't go around defacing other people's property," said Ms Indranee on the sidelines of a community event. "The ability to express oneself does not require vandalism."