Council bosses are calling on people to help combat a £100,000-a-year graffiti problem in South Tyneside.
New figures show that council staff had to clean up nearly 1,000 paint attacks on buildings and walls in the borough in the last three years - with 258 incidents between January and October this year alone.
The figures - the result of a Freedom of Information request - show Jarrow and Boldon had the highest number of graffiti reports at 304 – around a third of all reported graffiti between April 2015 and October 2018.
This was followed by Riverside (264), Hebburn (160), West Shields (136) and East Shields and Whitburn (126).
Over the period, three racist graffiti incidents were also reported to the council.
This included incidents in East Shields and Whitburn and Riverside in 2016 and one case in Jarrow and Boldon in September 2018.
A spokeswoman for South Tyneside Council said: “Ultimately it is law-abiding taxpayers who have to bear the clean up cost and I’m sure that in these financially challenging times, residents could think of far better things we should be spending our money on.
“Graffiti is an act of vandalism and creates a negative impression of our borough.
“It is frustrating that the actions of a tiny minority of people continue to spoil our environment in this way.”
She added: “Our council workers take a proactive approach to graffiti, removing much of it before it is reported, which mitigates the impact on our communities.
“However, it costs the council in excess of £100,000 a year to remove graffiti and this places an unnecessary burden on council resources which are already extremely stretched.”
According to the figures - covering the period between April 3, 2015 and October 18 this year, 993 graffiti incidents were reported.
While reports dropped from 327 in 2016 to 218 in 2017, the figure for 2018 stood at 258 by October.
Currently, the council removes all graffiti on its own properties and prioritises ‘offensive graffiti’.
In recent months, dozens of walls, fences and buildings in the Laygate and Tyne Dock areas of South Shields were targeted by vandals.
In some cases, tags reappeared hours after being removed, with graffiti also spotted on houses, bus stops and the walls of businesses.
To tackle the wider issue, council bosses have launched poster campaigns to encourage the public to report graffiti alongside sharing leaflets with people living in hotspot areas.
The spokeswoman added: “We would always encourage people to pass on any information about graffiti by calling the council on 0191 427 7000.”
People can also call 101 or community wardens on 0191 4203713 between 11.30am and 10pm to report graffiti.
Chris Binding, Local Democracy Reporting Service