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Exclusive: Graffiti Vandals Strike Again, Hit 'E' Train In Lower Manhattan

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Subway trains have been tagged again.

Graffiti has increased, with cars being painted top to bottom.

Subway Train Covered In Graffiti
(credit: Twitter/@NYCPBA)

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority says the vandalism is happening out of sight of cameras and cops, CBS2's Dave Carlin reported.

A splashy paint job requires significant time and access to parked trains in tunnels. As Carlin saw exclusively, paint was still wet on an "E" train early Wednesday morning at World Trade Center near Chambers Street.

MOREBrooklyn Subway Train Covered In Graffiti, MTA Says Clean-Up Will Cost Thousands

It marked at least the fifth high-profile, top-to-bottom and end-to-end train graffiti crime since the summer. Many times the vandalism appears to be taking place In the so-called "lead up" areas inside a tunnel, so it's off the platform and requires the vandals to walk in past warning signs and avoid the third rail.

Earlier this month, an F train covered in graffiti caught the attention of the Police Benevolent Association, which tweeted out a minute's worth of video with a message that it's a sign that the city is not holding criminals accountable and it is sending us back to the bad old days of the 1970s and '80s.

"You definitely don't want the times to come back to that," one rider told Carlin.

A recent history of this kind of train transformation includes: cars painted on a Q train at the 96th Street stop of the Second Avenue Subway on June 9, a D train vandalized on Halloween night, and a train on the J/M/Z line in Bushwick, Brooklyn discovered with a fresh paint job on Dec. 17.

The MTA says in the first half of the decade train graffiti averaged about 200 incidents each year, but by 2018 that figure tripled.

On the internet there have been indications that the increase in graffiti may be in part sparked by the deaths of two legendary graffiti artists. However, the MTA says regardless of the motive it must stop because it's not art, is dangerous and costly.

The MTA said it is the NYPD's responsibility to patrol anywhere on tracks between the stations, but when Carlin reached out to police demanding to know how vandals managed the time and access to do their thing, he was told only that there are no arrests yet and questions about security protocols must by answered by the MTA.

Security expert Manuel Gomez said with cases like these on the rise, it begs the question: Are these places where trains are left unattended soft targets for all kinds of things?

"The bad guys see this as a vulnerability right now and we need to address it," Gomez said.

As part of the security protocol Transit must notify the NYPD when trains are stored in track spaces. Whether that happened in this latest case remains under investigation.

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