Defaced: What Are the Most Likely Forms of Vandalism?

Defaced: What Are the Most Likely Forms of Vandalism?

Looting and rioting gets a lot of media attention, but they are incredibly rare in terms of the most prevalent kinds of vandalism. We took a dive into insurance data to learn more about what is typically covered by providers and what other forms of vandalism are be more likely to impact companies.


What is Covered?

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), a national insurance industry data source, “Damage to the physical part of a business and its contents that is caused by fire, riots, civil commotion, or vandalism is generally covered under a standard Business Owners Policy.”

Additionally, the III said that, “Some businesses purchase coverage for plate glass windows separately. Businesses that are forced to suspend operations may have coverage for the loss of income under business income insurance – also known as business interruption insurance.”

It is important to add the caveat here that no two claims are alike. Each business affected by this year’s civil unrest has its own unique circumstances and policy stipulations, thus coverages will vary.


What’s Most Likely to Happen?

Vandalism occurs in lots of different and often colorful forms. An aggregate of several law enforcement sources points out some of the most common examples, of which graffiti overwhelmingly makes up the majority share. In fact, the U.S. EPA estimates that “nationally, the annual cost of monitoring, detecting, removing, and repairing graffiti damage has been estimated as high as $15 to $18 billion.”

Not all graffiti is a loss, though. If a business is one of the lucky ones to be tagged by a famous artist, it could actually generate a profit. But that’s unlikely to be the case for most companies.

After graffiti, the other most common forms of physical vandalism include broken windows, trash dumping, sign damage or theft, billboard defacing, and infrastructure theft (like stealing pipes or wires). Digital vandalism is also very common these days, as more attacks take place against websites and social media accounts.


Who are the Usual Suspects?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the typical vandalism offender is an adolescent. Basically, it’s a rebellion thing.

Research shared by the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS), a federal justice and drug-related data source, states, “The living conditions of juveniles, the most common perpetrators of vandalism, can arouse entirely negative feelings of subordination and boredom. Vandalism permits powerless individuals to strike out against the institutions which control them and to take charge of the situation themselves, arousing fear in others and raising their own self-esteem.”

In other words, kids smash things to get a reaction.


What Should You Do?

Business owners should focus on two specific things when it comes to vandalism: checking with their insurance provider to make sure they’re covered and discovering ways to prevent vandalism from happening.

The Urban Institute, a Washington D.C.-based social and economic policy research firm, outlines several strategies in their report titled Preventing Vandalism. Initially, a company should work with its neighbors to determine the prevalence and types of offenses taking place. Data can be obtained from local law enforcement as well to help owners get a measurement of the problem.

Once the level of vandalism is defined, the institute recommends working with neighboring partners to develop a tailored response. For example, if a company is experiencing general vandalism and graffiti during certain hours of the evening, they could implement several control measures such as:

  • Reducing pedestrian throughways
  • Improving lighting and adding surveillance
  • Monitor areas with the most damage activity
  • Install parameter fencing
  • And much more

The intent here should be to involve all affected parties and form a cohesive plan that best addresses the community’s vandalism.


Increase Awareness and Save

Business owners should develop an awareness of how vandalism is impacting their community and other neighboring businesses. Taking a few extra steps could help companies save a lot of money against property damage and loss and will also go a long way toward greater peace of mind for owners.

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