photo: thehundreds

2011 SMRT Bishan depot break-in revealed to be works of two graffiti artists from America

The vandals who broke into SMRT’s Bishan Depot in August 2011 have been identified as two graffiti artists from America, Jim Harper and Danielle Bremner, who go by the monikers Utah and Ether respectively.

In August 2011, a SMRT train was found vandalised on a Wednesday morning. The train operator, SMRT said that a train officer discovered graffiti on a northbound train and it was pulled out of service. Investigations indicate a breach in the fence at Bishan Depot where the train was parked and the suspects were never caught.

Now footage of the culprits who broke into SMRT’s Bishan Depot and vandalised a train carriage five years ago has turned up on Facebook.

The duo documented a series of videos, titled “Probation Vacation: Lost in Asia”, which was shared on a Facebook page which bills itself as a society and culture website, The Grifters.

Harper’s and Bremner’s break-in in Singapore featured on the fifth episode of the series and was published on April 29, 2016.

UTAH & ETHER – PROBATION VACATION: LOST IN ASIA (Episode 5 – Singapore) from The Grifters on Vimeo.

In the footage of the episode, the camera started in zooming into the warning sign before panning out immediately to show someone cutting open the fence.

The pair were then filmed spray-painting the word “Jet Setter’s” on a train carriage.


The other episodes highlighted their break-ins in Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and India.

According to media reports in Australia and Hong Kong, Harper is in jail while Bremner is said to be on the run from the authorities. Harper was arrested in Melbourne on May 4 this year, after a man confronted him about defacing shops. He was jailed at the end of May for six months.

Following Harper’s arrest, Bremner and another Australian graffiti artist went on the run from the Australian authorities for almost four weeks before boarding a plane and flying to Hong Kong, reported Australia’s The Age newspaper.

Local Police are currently working with the Australian authorities to facilitate investigations into the vandalism report at Bishan Depot in August 2011.

According to the New York Post, the pair had been arrested in New York and Chicago, in 2008, for allegedly vandalising trains as early as 2005.

In an interview with The Hundreds, the pair didn’t seem bothered by their break-ins.

The duo have defaced walls and trains in over thirty countries across five continents.

They said: “‘The act of cutting a fence or breaking into an airshaft is equally (and oftentimes more) rewarding for us than the actual finished product of graffiti.’

The duo told The Hundreds, “… the experience itself of painting trains and metro is quite special to us. Each system and each spot is unique, and as such, figuring out how to paint each system and each spot (bypassing sensors, avoiding cameras and security, etc.) requires a skill set far beyond simply knowing how to use a can of spray paint. The act of cutting a fence or breaking into an airshaft is equally (and oftentimes more) rewarding for us than the actual finished product of graffiti.”

The 2011 case was the second of its kind in Singapore, perplexing authorities and members of the public alike.

The image of Singapore as a squeaky-clean, incorruptible and crime-free country had been tarnished in the bright-blue spray-painted blemish of “Jet Setter’s” – a mark to the duo’s anti-establishment antics.

Following the break-in, the Land Transport Authority slapped SMRT with a hefty $200,000 fine.

Other break in in Singapore occurred in 2010 at Changi Depot, where Swiss national Oliver Fricker was arrested and jailed for seven months, while his partner, British national Lloyd Dane Alexander remains at large. For that incident, SMRT was fined $50,000.

The latest case happened in November 2014, again targeted Bishan Depot. This time, two Germans were caught and jailed for nine months.