An explosion in graffiti during lockdown has escalated into thousands of pounds worth of damage for Richmond businesses.
Figures from Richmond Borough Council have revealed an 83% surge in reports of graffiti, disfiguring streets and leaving businesses – as well as council taxpayers – with big bills.
A number of recent attacks on shop fronts in Twickenham, involving the scratching and smashing of windows, have turned the spotlight on the menace.
A Twickenham shop keeper captured an image of one person allegedly involved in these attacks and has passed the details to the police.
However, it is believed that the attacks are the work of several different vandals.
Richmond Borough Council, which offers a service to help homeowners and businesses to remove graffiti, said the number of official reports rose from 545 in 2019 to 1,000 during the 2020 lockdown.
One of the latest businesses to be targeted is the popular Twickenham restaurant, Osteria Pulcinella, in Church Street.
George Haririan, 56, who has owned the Italian restaurant for three decades, said: “He scratched his signature ‘lowco’ mark all over the windows, we have to replace them all.”
“He ruined six windows, costing us at least £1,000, but it could cost much more, it was a very scary experience.”
Maria Singh, 36, owner of Foreign Stones in York Street, saw the vandal in the act.
“At about 12 o’clock I saw him leaning on my windows and start scratching them,” she said.
“I opened the door and managed to snap a picture of him before he ran away.
“It was a very scary experience, I didn’t know what to do.
“I thought he had a rock or a knife, so I didn’t want to chase him, I just ran to people walking nearby.”
Recently this vandalism has escalated to the smashing of windows in York Street, as reported by worried residents on Twitter.
Liberal Democrat councillor Avril Coelho condemned the attacks: “It’s horrendous and unacceptably costly for independent businesses.”
Richmond Borough Council said: “We are committed to reducing and removing graffiti. Graffiti is a criminal offence; if you are a victim of graffiti, or witness an act of graffiti, please report it to the police.”
If you wish to report any new graffiti in the Richmond area, please visit www.richmond.gov.uk/report_graffiti.