Police in the national capital are on the hunt for the culprit behind “cute” dinosaur graffiti spreading messages of “love” – but some locals say the happy dinos make them smile.
ACT Police are seeking to identify the “prehistoric vandal” responsible for a string of graffiti incidents across Canberra, consisting of a smiling cartoon dinosaur and often accompanied by positive messages such as “love”, “be safe”, “keep on keepin’ on” and “don’t let the fat-heads get you down”.
“They may look cute but each caricature represents a real cost for a member of the community to clean up,” ACT Police said in a Facebook post on Friday.
The graffiti – which has been painted across traffic signs, bus stops, fences, overpasses, traffic light boxes, electricity boxes, buildings, shops, sporting sheds and paths – has been spotted in suburbs including Dickson, Lyneham, North Lyneham, Kaleen, Lawson, Bruce, Fyshwick and the CBD.
“While those responsible might think the imagery is harmless and potentially even heartwarming, these incidents still amount to property damage, which is a criminal offence,” Detective Sergeant Elizabeth Swain said in a statement.
“The cost of the damage caused is mounting, and the offender continues to be active around Canberra with additional images popping up. I would encourage those responsible for these incidents to make themselves known to police before they get a knock at their door.”
CCTV footage shows the suspected dinosaur artist wearing blue jeans, a grey hoodie, red Adidas shoes and a face covering.
“Police are investigating these incidents, and are urging anyone with information who can identify the offender to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or via the Crime Stoppers ACT website,” the police said.
The posts by ACT Police and ABC Canberra have attracted hundreds of comments on Facebook, with many defending the graffiti.
“Those dinosaurs are around my suburbs and I love them and they genuinely make me smile,” one woman wrote.
Another said, “This art is beautiful. Stop wasting your resources on silly things that (are) not harming anybody.”
Some supporters of the dinosaur said they thought it was actually a worm.
“I thought it was a loveable worm. KEEP THE WORM!” one woman said.
Another wrote, “I call it the love worm and I love it. There was a beautiful work done in a bus stop on Mouat Street with a positive message of ‘love yourself’ and the bureaucrats painted over it. I was crestfallen.”
One man added, “Hi, Melbourne here. What you’re experiencing is called ‘street art’. It’s perfectly harmless and can even become beneficial to the host. We recommend leaving it alone, or better yet, funding it.”
Not everyone was a fan, however.
“People who think this is ‘art’ need to get a clue,” one man wrote.
“There’s no talent here whatsoever. Painting on your own canvas = art. Painting on something owned by someone else = graffiti. Let’s see if any of these ‘art fans’ would like this on their house or car. Idiots.”