Cameras could end grafitti like this near the PH medical clinic.

Cameras could end grafitti like this near the PH medical clinic.

Graffiti artists and vandals to be in the lens

Smile taggers — you could be caught on one of several Port Hardy cameras and if you are, it’s going to cost you.

Smile taggers — you could be caught on one of several Port Hardy cameras and if you are, it’s going to cost you.

Fed up with having to clean the mess left by punks with spray cans, District of Port Hardy council opted last week to install several mobile, infrared surveillance cameras in various places around town.

“Every year vandals cost tax payers thousands of dollars in property damage and theft,” Port Hardy Mayor Bev Parnham said in a release to the Gazette.

“Because of this it has become necessary to install the surveillance cameras, which use infrared technology, to capture sound and movement on the darkest nights.”

Parnham said within the last couple of weeks, vandals have sprayed graffiti on the new Welcome To Port Hardy sign near the airport, used the Estuary Pavilion railing for firewood and swiped bedding plants — some rare — from the Stink Creek garden at the corner of Rupert and Granville streets.

“The Storey’s Beach Pavilion, which was built by our Rotary and our civic organizations, are very active and do everything from Filomi Days, Canada Day and take on these events for the town and have put money into things like the pavilion and to see their work continually destroyed, well, in the end it costs us all money and time,” said Patti Smedley, Port Hardy’s economic and community development coordinator.

“The last time we ran the reward, the (thefts) stopped for a while.”

Now the hope is the cameras will be a solid solution deterrent that  would  last much longer.

“We did have a couple of the cameras in stock and we have them up (in their hidden locations),” said Smedley. “They’re a little better grade than the kind you can buy on the street to record wildlife.”

The cameras — which operate in a stealth mode with no flashing or constant lights —  will not be monitored.

Instead, if vandalism occurs, the recording device is pulled from the camera’s shell.

“We’ve had an ongoing problem here for the last couple of years,” said Smedley, who added the majority of people respect what is being done for community pride and tourism, but it’s the actions of a few who are doing the damages.

It cost thousands of dollars to replace the items and repair the damage, said the mayor, who noted she hopes the cameras will put an end to the senseless damages.

The district is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone destroying or removing municipal property.

As well, the courts can levy $2,000 fines for the same offenses.

The cameras will be rotated through various areas, including Storey’s Beach — and its washrooms — the baseball fields and dugouts, the Estuary Pavilions and the community’s many gardens.

“(The) camera technology allows these surveillance units to go undetected while offering a clear snapshot of events occurring in these areas,” said Parnham.

To report vandalism, call 250-949-6335.