No signs of entry breach at Bishan SMRT depot

No signs of entry breach at Bishan SMRT depot

SINGAPORE - A detailed inspection of the perimeter fence at the Bishan depot, where an SMRT train was found vandalised, turned up no signs of breach of entry.

This has raised the possibility that the act was an inside job, sources familiar with the investigation told The Straits Times yesterday.

The train was apparently spray-painted with graffiti between 1am and 5am last Monday, while it was secured - the third such incident in four years at an SMRT train depot.

The graffiti was spotted by staff monitoring CCTV cameras as the train was leaving the depot, said a source. It was halted and withdrawn at around 5.30am before it entered service.

SMRT installed the CCTV cameras after the second vandalism incident in August 2011.

Then, a vandalised train left the same depot in Bishan and had to be pulled back after a train officer saw that it had graffiti on its side.

In the latest incident, a red scrawl with traces of white - measuring 3m long and 1m high - was found on a middle carriage of the train.

A source told The Straits Times that it was "quite elaborate but looked incomplete".

It was, however, not signed off - as is the norm for graffiti - and no wording could be made out from the paint job.

The Straits Times understands that the train has since been scrubbed clean.

CCTV footage confirmed that the train did not carry any signs of vandalism when it ended its run the night before.

SMRT and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) are now assisting with police investigations.

They declined to comment further yesterday on the latest case.

The first two incidents took place in May 2010 at Changi Depot and in August 2011 at Bishan.

In both cases, vandals cut through a fence before spray-painting graffiti on a train.

The LTA fined SMRT $250,000 for the breaches. Shortly after, it replaced two security contractors and engaged Certis Cisco to guard its stations and train depots.

The rail operator also completed the installation of reinforced steel fences and intrusion detection systems at its Ulu Pandan, Changi and Bishan depots.

The fences are fitted with sensors, surveillance cameras and lighting to detect would-be intruders.

MP Seng Han Thong, who is deputy chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport, yesterday questioned how the latest incident could have happened given the beefed-up security. "Are key areas like where the trains are parked also covered by CCTV and patrols? Security has to be enhanced further."

Senior Minister of State for Law and Education Indranee Rajah yesterday expressed disapproval of the latest incident and another similar case of vandalism at a Toa Payoh block rooftop, reported last Wednesday.

"You don't go around defacing other people's property," said Ms Indranee on the sidelines of a community event. "The ability to express oneself does not require vandalism."

roysim@sph.com.sg

tohyc@sph.com.sg

This article was published on May 12 in The Straits Times.

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