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New MRT graffiti an inside job?

4TH INCIDENT: The latest case occurred at the Bishan depot, even after SMRT had boosted security by installing motion sensors and more cameras.


    Nov 11, 2014

    New MRT graffiti an inside job?

    AN EARLY assessment of the latest vandalism case at SMRT's Bishan depot points to disgruntled workers or vendors, even as the rail operator has said nothing is conclusive.

    Findings, however, suggest that the vandal or vandals had more time to complete the deed than in May, when a vandalism incident also happened.

    A photo of the vandalised train obtained by The Straits Times showed graffiti which was more elaborate, but it was similar to the May incident as it was stretched across two sets of train doors.

    There were two other reported cases of defaced trains here. In 2011, a hole was cut in the Bishan depot fence and the words "Jet Setter's" were spray-painted on a train. In 2010, two vandals cut through SMRT's Changi depot fence and spray-painted graffiti on a train.

    One of the vandals, Swiss national Oliver Fricker, was caught. He is the only vandal caught so far in all four cases. He received seven months' jail and three strokes of the cane.

    This year's two incidents took place despite SMRT having upped security by installing more cameras, more lights, motion sensors along its perimeter fencing and deploying guards from third-party vendors.

    The Land Transport Authority said security threats continue to evolve, and agencies will continue to work to address security challenges faced.

    A source with intimate knowledge of SMRT's security measures said of the latest case: "It is most likely an inside job. Whoever did it is very daring, very foolish or desperate, because they will be jailed and caned if they're caught."

    But he added there was still a slight possibility that it was the work of intruders, as the Bishan depot perimeter is 6.5km long.

    "It may take some time for them to examine it closely to determine if there had been any breach," he said.

    SMRT said it was too early to conclude that the latest case was the work of disgruntled employees. Group spokesman Patrick Nathan said that an internal survey last year found that 82 per cent of employees were "sustainably engaged". About 90 per cent said that they were "proud" to work at SMRT.

    The head of the Master of Counselling programme at SIM University, Joel Yang, said that vandals have various motivations, including anger, frustration and vengeance.

    "These theoretical overviews suggest that vandalism in general is motivated by negative feelings," he said. "However, other studies have also shown that vandalism can be motivated by curiosity, playfulness and pleasure."