Probe into graffiti atop HDB block

Probe into graffiti atop HDB block

It was more than 20 storeys up, but the spray-painted red graffiti across the walls of a rooftop on an HDB block in Toa Payoh was hard to miss.

People were first drawn to the incident early yesterday morning when a group of police officers were spotted at the foot of Block 85A, Lorong 4 Toa Payoh.

The police said they received a call about the case at 6.47am and investigations were still ongoing.

Residents in the area said at least eight officers were on the scene at about 7am and proceeded to set up cordons in areas leading up to the roof of the block.

"There was police tape along the corridor... I heard officers talking about dusting for prints," said IT engineer Mervyn Yeo, 36.

He said he saw officers enter the roof via the access hatch outside his door and that a crime scene investigations van was parked under the block. "They asked us what time we went to bed, and if we had heard anything overnight," he said.

Photos of the act of vandalism, with four-letter expletives seemingly directed at the People's Action Party and the police, quickly went viral online. The vandal appeared to have signed off with the name "Mike Cool".

The Straits Times (ST) understands that the access hatch was locked when the police tried to access the roof and that it was later opened by a Bishan-Toa Payoh Town Council staff member.

The town council says it has filed a report and is cooperating with police investigations. "We have a security process in place to control access to the rooftops," said a spokesman in an e-mail reply. "The security process has remained intact... We will take this opportunity to review all the processes again and strengthen them where necessary."

By 11.30am, all the graffiti had been painted over by workers.

However, this may not be the first case of high-rise graffiti in the neighbourhood. A resident at nearby Block 60, who wanted to be known only as Madam Chan, said her daughter spotted similar-looking graffiti on the rooftop of their block last month and had informed the town council.

"It was in yellow spray-paint, and (the vandal) used the four-letter word and the 'A' symbol," said the 60-year-old, referring to a symbol associated with anarchy.

Madam Chan reckoned that as her block was being repainted, the vandal may have gained access to the roof via a suspended platform, or ropes left tethered overnight.

The retiree said the vandalised wall at her block had been repainted within days.

The town council spokesman did not reply to ST queries about this earlier incident.

yanliang@sph.com.sg

This article was published on May 8 in The Straits Times.

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