Graffiti is a common sight in cities and towns around the world and now it is the subject of an international symposium in Halifax, where experts are discussing how to prevent it.

Police say new techniques like style recognition can help them track down and charge vandals.

“So we have a person in court now who’s basically been caught doing one incident, and charged with eight,” says Const. Gerry Murney of the Halifax Regional Police.

Graffiti cleanup has cost the City of Halifax roughly $400,000 in just one year. Police say there is little, if any, gang-related graffiti in Halifax, but there are links to crime.

Experts say the factors that motivate people to tag walls and buildings are the same all over the world.

“The principal motivating factor is to have a voice in a public space, you know, it’s how they want to be heard or to be seen,” says Det. Const. Colin Saysell of the British Transport Police. “So, getting fame from a name.”

Graffiti often attracts more graffiti, so in Burnaby, B.C., building owners are responsible for ensuring their properties remain free of graffiti.

“So the established bylaw gave me that teeth to be able to get out in the community and get the members to remove graffiti off their property,” says anti-graffiti coordinator Kathy Wipf.

Halifax city councillor Linda Mosher says murals can provide an alternate outlet, and has encouraged them for years, but there need to be strict rules in place.

“Even on private property that faces public property, you should have an agreement and it should be vetted and the muralist should give you an idea of what the mural should look like,” says Mosher.

The two-day Anti-Graffiti Symposium ends Thursday.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Ron Shaw