AS civic leaders move to address the growing problem of graffiti in the inner-city, at least one vandal is doing their best to spread the scourge, plastering scores of 'Empathy' tags on public and private property.
Yesterday, the tag was scrawled in black marker across at least 15 surfaces, including walls, bins and phone boxes, along Hunter Street between Pacific and Perkins streets.
Last week at least two private residences in Newcastle and Hamilton were marked.
One tag replicates the style of the late Arthur Stace, who for 35 years from the 1930s wrote 'Eternity' around Sydney.
His aim was to spread a Christian message and, unlike the Newcastle vandals, Mr Stace worked in easy-to-remove chalk.
Another 'Empathy' tag is written in a square hand, suggesting a style variation or more than one perpetrator.
It adds to the city's growing graffiti problem, which Newcastle City Council is due to discuss tonight.
Cr Keith Parsons wants the council to lobby for more police resources to catch vandals.
He said graffiti in the central business district had exponentially worsened in recent months.
A council spokeswoman said yesterday removing graffiti from council-owned buildings cost about $85,000 a year.
A report to tonight's meeting said the council usually cleaned graffiti from its buildings within 48 hours and encouraged other property owners to do the same.
The council works with police on deterrence.