Through our work with commercial property owners, we have observed that graffiti is often found alongside other forms of harmful vandalism. These include the destruction of property (e.g. smashed windows, breaking items such as signs, furniture, and stock), scratching of glass surfaces, throwing eggs and other types of food at a surface and even fire damage.
Malicious property damage in Australia costs almost $2 billion annually to repair and is more common than any other property offense1. Like graffiti, vandalism can attract further acts of vandalism and lead on to shoplifting and other forms of anti-social behaviour.
Preventing vandalism is not solved with one single action. Businesses which have won the war against vandals have done so by implementing a strategy which achieves two goals:
It instantly reduces the number of vandalism incidents
It enables quicker repair of vandalism
Vandalism attracts further vandalism – repairing or removing it quickly demonstrates that it’s a waste of the vandal’s time.
Control Areas of Low Visibility
Businesses will see the largest drop in vandalism incidents by preventing access to areas which don’t require customer access. Loading docks, rear exits, laneways are often sheltered and lack visibility from inside the premises or from the street. These areas provide refuge for teenagers to congregate, vandalise property, shoplift through rear doors and take drugs.
This behaviour can be reduced drastically by installing high fences and gates, and ensuring there are no items nearby which can be used to climb over, such as rubbish bins and skips. For busier loading docks which require open access, we recommend installing video surveillance with clear signage announcing this. Walls can be protected with anti-graffiti coatings, which will make graffiti quicker to remove.
Strengthen your Glass
Most retailers have large street-facing windows, which receive not only spray-can graffiti tags, food stains, but deep scratches and in worst case scenarios are cracked or completely smashed. When these areas become vandalised, urgent action is required. Not only is it critical to avoid attracting repeat incidents, but to maintain a clean and professional image which attracts customers instead of deterring them. Over 50% of shoppers will avoid a business if the outside appears dirty2.
Our clients find the implementation of a glass protection film will handle many forms of vandalism. These films will stop most types of scratching from penetrating the glass and make graffiti, food and other types of vandalism easy to remove in a timely manner. Those who are repeated victims of broken windows may wish to install shatterproof glass and a glass protection film to cover all bases.
Cover Walls before Graffiti Vandals Do
Walls are also common targets which can be protected in a number of ways. Plants and artistic murals (not in a graffiti style) make large single-colour walls less of a target by removing the blank canvas appearance. Anti-graffiti coatings can be implemented to enable graffiti and other vandalism stains to be removed promptly.
Signs are a common target, not only impacting your businesses presentation; it can render key information on products, services, or contact details unreadable. Coatings for signage of a variety of materials, including vinyl, should be implemented to prevent unreadable signage from causing a loss in sales.
Protect Vacant Properties
Each week we receive calls from owners of vacant commercial property who have had their properties vandalised. Like a loading dock or laneway, with vacant properties there may be fewer witnesses to the crime. Such acts of vandalism can easily escalate, with the property broken into, receiving further vandalism and end up being used by squatters or drug users.
For the many retailers with large street-facing windows, it can be difficult to hide the fact that the premises are vacant. If you suspect your property will be vacant for a long period, you may be able to rent it as a pop-up store until a long term arrangement is negotiated. Additional steps to protect your property include sensor lights and timed lights, security patrols, linking fire detection devices to a monitoring service, and implementing protective coatings for walls, glass and signage.
The Graffiti Eaters work with commercial property owners and managers throughout Australia, providing solutions which reduce their exposure to vandalism. Some of our clients include Woolworths, Kmart, 7/11 and Commonwealth Bank.