WITNESSING the aftermath of a graffiti attack is bad enough - watching the perpetrator as he senselessly splashes paint over Wollongong's city streets is even more disturbing.
The Illawarra Mercury was yesterday allowed access to the CCTV footage of a brazen graffiti attack in the CBD that left Wollongong ratepayers with a $4600 clean-up bill.
The footage, which was captured by the mall's security cameras in the early morning of Wednesday, January 16, has been passed on to Wollongong police who are investigating the attack.
The Illawarra Mercury had to apply for access to the footage from council under the Government Information (Public Access) Act.
While access was granted, it only enabled a reporter to view the footage under supervision at the council offices.
Requests for a copy of the footage to be published online or as a still image in the paper - to see if anyone recognised the culprit - were denied to protect the man's right to "privacy".
The footage shows a young man who over the course of just under an hour hurls and swirls white paint over pavers, walls, trees and even a car in a trail that was concentrated around lower Crown Street, Kembla Street and the city's arts precinct.
While the man, who appears to be in his 20s, is captured by cameras at various locations around town from about 5pm on the Tuesday, it is about 3.30am the next morning that he starts his path of destruction.
After storing his bike in an unseen location he is first seen carrying a paint tin in Simpson Lane, where he starts vigorously throwing the tin around him in an arc, causing paint to fall in swirls and splatters across the one-way street before disposing of the tin in a nearby bin.
The next clip shows the man, who is wearing a short-sleeved printed shirt, dark pants and "grandfather" cap, near the fountain outside the Town Hall.
Having pierced a hole in the bottom of another tin of paint, this time he casually walks down lower Crown Street with it, leaving a stark white strip of paint on the pavement and on the road as he crosses over.
The man returns to Simpson Lane and is next seen back on his bike - carrying a pierced paint tin on his handlebars - outside the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre around 4am.
He then continues up Burelli Street, past the Grand Hotel, and back on to Crown Street - leaving a tell-tale trail of white paint as he goes.
One of the last CCTV clips captured of him is outside Spotlight at 4.09am where the now bare-chested man is seen puncturing a paint tin with a sharp implement, before folding the implement back into his pocket, and continuing on his way.
The graffiti attack took two painters and two bricklayers five days to remove.
Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said he was "very disappointed" by the attack.
"Graffiti like this is not only ugly, it comes at a great cost to our community - ultimately as ratepayers we all have to pick up the bill," he said.
"In the 2011-2012 financial year it cost council $260,000 for graffiti removal across the local government area."
He said it was everyone's civic duty to respect public property.