A COLCHESTER retailer is to be given a police warning after being accused of selling spray paint used in a graffiti rampage in the town.

Residents of flats and houses in St James’ Park, Wallace Road, Bradford Drive and Bardsley Close – all Mile End – believe they may be forced to pay to clear the mess made over three nights by a 14-year-old boy in November.

Police gave the youth, who had no previous convictions, a caution and are set to issue a warning to Halfords, in Cowdray Avenue, which they say sold the spray paint.

Retailers which sell spray paint to anyone aged 16 and under can face fines of up to £2,500.

Marina De Smith, of Bardsley Close, said as no compensation was forthcoming from the offender, the only way they could pay for the graffiti to be removed was by a civil action against his family.

“The police don’t have the power to make the person responsible pay for the cost of the repair,” she said.

“Who is going to pay £200 for a solicitor?

“I think Halfords has a lot to answer for.”

Residents living in flats may be able to get the money back through an insurance claim by their management company.

PC Steve Walsom said he was considering handing the youth and another 14-year-old – who was arrested at the same time but released without charge – Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABC).

He said: “Catching this offender is a good result as graffiti is an eyesore which can be intimidating for other residents in the area.

“We will be issuing a warning to the shop responsible for selling the spray cans.

“We hope this will prevent similar incidents in the future.”

A Halfords spokeswoman said: “We are not aware of this individual situation, however as a responsible retailer we take great care in making sure products that carry age restrictions are not missold, and work closely with local authorities to ensure any issues are kept to a minimum.

“All of our staff are trained in the sales of such products and all of our till systems are configured to remind staff of the age restrictions on relevant products.

“As a further precautionary measure, the transaction will not complete unless the prompt is manually overridden.”

Cllr Martin Goss (Lib Dem, Mile End) said: “This is the third time the Northern Approaches have been targeted in the last year.”