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Showgoers help identify suspects
Police are still trying to identify the person in this image

A Marangaroo teenager accused of damaging a bus seat with a marker pen was charged with criminal damage yesterday.

His arrest came as police continued a crackdown on vandals whose crimes cost taxpayers about $25 million a year in clean-ups and repairs.

Police have charged 55 people with 128 offences - 88 of them for graffiti - since launching Operation Eraser Five on Saturday.

One 13-year-old boy was charged yesterday by summons with 27 counts of criminal damage by tagging public buildings.

As part of the operation, police displayed images of 17 suspected vandals in the police pavilion at the Perth Royal Show.

Sgt Andrea Smith said thanks to information from Show patrons, and through Crime Stoppers, police had identified nine alleged graffiti offenders.

They are still appealing for public help to identify the eight people pictured on this page. All allegedly scratched tags on or spray-painted trains, buses, stations or other public buildings.

Authorities put a lot of effort into targeting graffiti because they say it is a visible crime that makes people feel unsafe and it helps detect other crimes.

An Edith Cowan University review of 798 vandals' records found 702 were recidivists whose crimes included assault, burglary, drug offences and arson.

Operation Eraser began in February last year. WA Police statistics show reported graffiti offences fell 41 per cent last financial year. The Government also doubled maximum penalties in 2009 for graffiti to two years jail or a $24,000 fine.

But an analysis of those arrested in the first two phases of Operation Eraser shows almost 70 per cent had been caught before but many left court with no formal punishment.

The biggest of 26 fines and restitution orders was $2000 and only two of the 141 vandals were jailed.

None of those arrested was acquitted and many faced the more serious offence of criminal damage, which can mean three years jail and a $36,000 fine.