Published on October 15, 2018, by AFA Author
Vandalism can be a frustrating and problematic occurrence for business owners, but there are methods that business owners can use to prevent future instances of graffiti, broken windows and lights, and other damage. Among the more important steps in preventing vandalism is cleaning it up quickly if it occurs. Well-placed lighting and security systems are also crucial. Above all, the prevention of vandalism requires constant vigilance and a consistent approach on the part of business owners, which helps deter further acts.
It can be an extremely frustrating and frightening thing when someone vandalizes your business. It can make a business owner feel violated or even threatened, leaving them with the feeling that they have no way to prevent it. Vandalism can also have real consequences to a business’s well-being, as it may change the way customers’ perceive the business or force the business to raise prices as a result of the expenses involved with cleaning and repairing vandalized property. However, vandalism is far from a hopeless situation. Keep reading to learn why vandalism occurs and what a business owner can do to discourage further occurrences.
What is Vandalism and Why Does it Happen?
Acts that constitute vandalism include graffiti, broken windows and lights, and other things such as damaged street signs and bent car antennas. While not all of these acts may be pertinent to your business, it is important to understand the entirety of the problem when building a strategy to combat the issue.
Why does vandalism happen? It is important to recognize that vandalism most commonly begins as a community-wide issue. One of the simplest explanations is called the broken window theory. The broken window theory states that if there is one broken window within a community, or in a business, vandals are likely to cause more damage. This is because of the implication that no one is monitoring or taking care of the area, or at the very least, it appears that someone else has gotten away with it in other instances.
On a more specific level, vandalism most commonly occurs in areas with poor lighting, or in areas that are not visible from a public area such as the street, and in areas that are seemingly inaccessible.
The reality of the situation is that most vandals are young people, with acts perpetrated by grade-schoolers and young adults who have a wide variety of motivators, such as:
In some communities, vandalism is also the result of gang activity, as gangs will use these acts to mark an area as their turf. This is one of the reasons it is important to remember that it is a community-wide issue.
What Can Business Owners Do To Prevent Further Instances of Vandalism?
The single most important thing you can do to avoid further cases of vandalism against your business is to clean it up and maintain the exterior of the building. When damage occurs, business owners need to take immediate action to repair broken windows or lights and remove any graffiti immediately. While it may be costly and seem unfair, the number one deterrent to further occurrences is the removal of any existing defacement, breakage or malicious damage as soon as it happens.
Remember that while many instances are seemingly random, vandals will be encouraged to commit further acts in areas or against businesses where they see it has been successful. They need targets of opportunity to perform the acts of destruction or defacement they have set out to achieve, and areas that are already visibly impacted immediately make an area one of those targets.
However, remember that vandalism is a community-wide issue and treat it as such. Get together with other business owners and community leaders and develop a plan to reduce instances across your community to benefit everyone. Reach out to your local law enforcement to see what kind of resources they can provide to help prevent further vandalism in your area. Finally, don’t forget about the untapped potential of youth, because organizing a group that involves young people in prevention can help stop the problem at its source.
What Steps Can Business Owners Take To Protect Their Property from Vandalism
While there are many broad measures that can be put in place to end vandalism against your business, there are also specific and individual measures that can be taken to keep vandals from attacking your property. The easiest and most straightforward answer would be to increase security by hiring security personnel, but this is costly and sometimes not as effective as businesses might hope. It may also simply be financially unfeasible for small business owners. So what other measures can you take to prevent vandalism against your company or campus?
After cleaning up any defacement or damage, the most efficient deterrent against repeat performance is good lighting. Quite simply, lighting is the best and lowest cost defense against vandals that is available today. While it may seem expensive to install new lighting and upgrade what you already have, in reality, the benefits will far outweigh the costs. When you consider the energy savings after installing LED lamps, the cost of the upgrade will be paid back before you know it.
Take, for example, the lighting solutions implemented at Bryant College in Rhode Island. The college’s commuter parking lot illumination was not sufficient to discourage vandalism, thefts, and break-ins. Both students and faculty who utilized the parking lot were concerned for the safety of their vehicles as well as their personal safety. New lighting was installed, and after the first year, the school had saved over $1,000 in vandalism clean-up costs and $3,000 in prevention. Also, despite concerns about the cost of upgrading the lighting around the parking lot, the new, more efficient light bulbs that were utilized cost about 45% less per year to operate and maintain.
However, while lighting is an important part of halting vandals, there are other measures that you can take as well. Unbreakable glass is a great deterrent, and installing fences around secluded areas can discourage vandals from reaching areas that are vulnerable to expensive acts of destruction.
Ultimately, consistency and vigilance are the most important characteristics of a successful vandalism prevention strategy for any business owner.