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English graffiti artists arrested in Austria

Austrian police say they have caught an internationally active graffiti artist from the UK together with three pals who now face up to 5 years in jail and a bill for thousands for the clean up work.

Jack M, 24, was caught by police in the Austrian capital Vienna in the middle of spraying his trademark graffiti signature in the cities third district. He was arrested in the act of completing a "GN" and "T-BAG" logo.

The graffiti artist was arrested together with two pals named by police only as Davy and Joseph because of Austrian privacy laws. The two friends are also both British citizens, and were arrested as well as an Austrian man from Vienna.

According to Austrian police Jack M was also wanted in Prague and Bratislava for similar graffiti vandalism attacks. When he was arrested they recovered numerous specialist spray canisters as well as a high-tech array of equipment including expensive digital cameras used to record the images and smart phones for the transmission.

The digital images recovered from the electronic equipment included numerous selfies of the group ready for online publication. There were also canisters of pepper spray.

A police spokesman said: "It was an extremely professional organisation, they even had pass keys arranged that allowed them access to the underground network. This was a professional organisation well equipped for criminal activity."

The graffiti artist is unlikely to see any of his equipment back, it will probably be seized to help pay the estimated 45,000 GBP in damages that he is responsible for in the Austrian capital alone. According to Austrian police the English graffiti artist is responsible for over 300 suspected illegal graffiti pieces in the city. Because of the severity of the crime and the volume of graffiti that the Englishman is accused of creating, police have said he is being kept in custody for the time being.

In Vienna, police said there had been an increasing number of graffiti attacks on houses and various public transport vehicles including trains and underground resulting in the clampdown.

It is the second major arrest in Austria involving a major name on the graffiti scene and follows on from the arrest of Swiss graffiti artist Puber. His drawings started to show up around Vienna last summer. The sprayer was not only unpopular in the city after hundreds of attacks but also with other graffiti artists because he simply signed his name without any attempt to create art. In addition, he didn't follow the unwritten rule of not defacing other people's graffiti art.

People who wrote newspaper articles about the 30-year-old Brazilian born Swiss man found themselves targeted including the director of a kindergarten who complained about having to clean up the sprayer's name. When he was arrested police also seized flatmates they claim knew that he was the Puber graffiti artist but had not reported him.

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