Spray paint

Graffiti vandalism is a problem that costs the NSW community tens of millions of dollars each year. A lot of this vandalism is done using stolen spray paint cans.

Age restrictions

It’s illegal for businesses to sell spray paint to anyone under 18 years of age.

It’s also illegal for:

  • any person to buy spray paint cans on behalf of a minor or otherwise supply spray paint to a minor, unless the person believes on reasonable grounds that the product is to be used:
    • for the lawful pursuit of an occupation, education or training
    • for any lawful artistic, construction, renovation or maintenance activity in the immediate vicinity of the place where the supply occurred.
  • a person under 18 to possess spray paint in a public place, unless the person has the spray paint:
    • for the lawful pursuit of an occupation, education or training
    • for any lawful artistic, construction, renovation or maintenance activity and was in the immediate vicinity of the place where this activity was to occur.

A retailer has the right to ask a person buying spray paint cans for proof of age. Forms of proof of age include:

  • a NSW Proof of Age card (issued by Roads and Maritime Services)
  • driver’s licence
  • passport
  • birth certificate
  • other official document with the customer’s name and age or date of birth.

A retailer has the right to question customers about how they intend to use the products and to refuse to sell products to a person of any age if they suspect that they will be used for graffiti.

Storing spray paint cans

Businesses who sell spray paint cans are required by law to keep those cans either:

  • in a locked cabinet
  • in or behind a counter so that customers cannot gain access to the cans without the assistance of shop staff, or
  • on a shelf 2.1 metres or higher.

Spray paints which are colourless and transparent when applied to a surface are exempt from the law.

Penalties for graffiti vandalism

The following penalties apply to graffiti vandalism offences:

  • a maximum fine of $2,200 or imprisonment for 12 months for damaging or defacing property by means of any graffiti implement
  • a maximum fine of $1,100 or imprisonment for 6 months for possessing a graffiti implement with the intention of damaging or defacing property
  • imprisonment for up to 6 years for malicious damage involving graffiti.

A court can order an offender to undertake community clean up work instead of imposing a fine.

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