Vandalism is the deliberate destruction or damage of someone’s property without their permission.
Types of vandalism can include throwing objects through windows, acts of graffiti, starting fires, defacing signs, smashing lights, and causing damage to vehicles or equipment.
Reasons for vandalism
According to the AIC (Australian Institute of Criminology) only about 25% of vandalism is premeditated. More often than not vandalism is opportunistic – that is, it happens because the opportunity presents itself. It may occur due to boredom, or it can simply be a mindless act to fill in the time.
In some cases vandalism may be done just to make things more convenient – such as in cases of people breaking through fences to create a short-cut or pathway from one place to another.
But whatever the motives behind the acts, you need to be proactive in protecting your church, faith centre or other property from the effects of vandalism.
These effects can include not only financial losses, but also negative emotions in your church or faith community – such as feelings of intrusion, violation and fear. Reducing the risk of vandalism therefore not only helps reduce losses but is also important for keeping your community feeling safe and secure.
How to stop vandalism – 10 tips
Since a lot of acts of vandalism are opportunistic, one of the best prevention tactics is to make it harder for people to offend in the first place. There are several ways to go about this.
- Develop safe church policies and procedures aimed towards general risk management, safety and security. Contact us if you need assistance with this.
- Communicate a message of property boundaries and ownership, such as through perimeter fencing and clear signage.
- Develop a maintenance plan for your property, as a neglected or unkempt property is more likely to attract vandals.
- Utilise natural surveillance where possible. This refers to a kind of neighbourhood watch approach – where locals and passersby take note of and report unusual activities. In remote areas where this isn’t possible, CCTV surveillance might be necessary.
- Employ security measures – such as deadlocks, window protection, locking up valuables, and installing security alarms or cameras.
- Install outside lighting to deter vandals from offending after dark. If you don’t want to keep the lights on all night, consider a motion-sensor light to detect people approaching the property.
- Clean up acts of vandalism quickly – e.g. through prompt repairs or removal of graffiti. This helps reduce the “show off” factor and also shows vandals you are not intimidated.
- Remove items that could make it easier to start fires – such as fuel or rubbish. Also lock away your wheelie bins.
- Support or develop community youth programs that provide positive activities for young people in your area.
- Park vehicles in a garage overnight where possible to prevent acts of vandalism in the car park.
Reporting and insuring against vandalism
If your centre is the victim of church vandalism make sure to report it no matter how small, as this helps the police to combat crime in your area and keep the community safer.
Financial protection through church insurance or not for profit insurance is also an important factor in a property risk management program. For example, church property insurance covers you for events such as graffiti vandalism and damage to private property.
Speak to us about how we can help you protect your church from the effects of vandalism. For more information contact us on 13 000 FAITH.
Written by Tess Oliver
Tags: arson, asset protection, security