One of Banksy’s “vandalism” installations parodied Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” painting. The world-famous, anonymous street artist cleverly repurposed a burglar alarm bell to form the famous jewel. The decorated premises delighted the property owner, who acquired a very valuable artwork overnight for free. 

Most property owners aren’t so pleased when vandalism strikes. Typically, the crime empties their pockets instead of lining them. “Vandalism spans a wide array of damaging actions and it’s a crime that can create a long list of problems for owners, ranging from an easily fixed glued lock, or salted flower box, to costly property destruction,” says Caleb Brunz, President of Paul Davis of Greater St. Paul and Minneapolis. 

Restaurants and retail stores are prime targets, Brunz relates, particularly as many have erected outdoor structures to operate more safely during the pandemic. Frequent closures and empty premises raise risks, too. Brunz answered common questions about this property crime, its prevention and what to do if vandals target your retail store or dining establishment.

Why does vandalism occur?

CB: “Many reasons:  to punish your business, express negative emotions, communicate, show off, alleviate boredom or form bonds with a group, to name just a few. Social problems nearby – labor unrest, protests, gang activity – also increase vandalism risks.”

Where should I start my efforts to deter vandalism?

CB: “We recommend forming relationships and partnerships first – with community groups, nearby businesses, local police and neighbourhood watch organizations. Tap paid partners as well – a security firm that will patrol your property is ideal. Many stores and restaurants defray that expense by sharing security costs with nearby businesses.”

What changes can I make to my property to reduce vandalism?

CB: “Make it harder for vandals to do their dirty work without being noticed. We recommend lights equipped with motion detectors as well as monitored alarm systems. Trim bushes so that shrubbery doesn’t conceal the property. Keep the premises neat by promptly clearing trash and debris.”

How can my employees help?

“First, develop, train and reinforce good security and maintenance procedures. Vandalism is a crime of opportunity – the door was unlocked, the overflowing trash was easy to set on fire. Second, foster a culture in which employees feel secure and valued. Happy employees are less likely to become vandals themselves and they feel comfortable reporting threats they’ve seen or heard. They’re motivated to protect your business and their livelihoods.”

How should retailers and restaurateurs handle vandalism if it occurs? 

CB: “Report any vandalism, no matter how minor, to the authorities immediately. Vandalism often occurs in cycles. Reporting it enables police to anticipate and prevent future attacks. If you need immediate assistance with mitigation after the damage occurs, Paul Davis is just a phone call away.”

If vandals damage your property, Paul Davis promises to be onsite within four hours of a call for help 24/7/365.