Five Tips to Prevent Graffiti from Devaluing Your Site
Graffiti is the most common type of property vandalism (35 percent), according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. It is more than a nuisance to site owners and maintenance staff. Graffiti has a negative impact on residents, prospects, and the surrounding community by reducing the curb appeal of your site, lowering residents' quality of life, and inviting additional crime. The presence of graffiti on buildings and in common areas also may result in a citation during your next site inspection.
The most successful programs for preventing graffiti involve a comprehensive approach that includes changing the environment to prevent graffiti vandalism, ongoing education and community involvement, improved technologies for removal, updated ordinances, and consistent enforcement and prosecution, according to national volunteer-based community action and education organization Keep America Beautiful (KAB). Its Graffiti Hurts graffiti vandalism prevention program offers tips, posters, and community resources for graffiti prevention.
Here are five tips for long-term graffiti prevention at your site:
Tip #1: Remove Graffiti Promptly
Rapid removal of graffiti is an effective prevention tool. According to KAB, data shows that removal within 24 to 48 hours results in a nearly zero rate of recurrence.
Tip #2: Form a Task Force
Include police, city government, and a variety of community members (such as businesses, schools, and neighborhood groups). “Many agencies are understaffed these days,” says Randy Campbell, president and executive director of The Nograf Network, a nonprofit organization that provides information and resources for preventing graffiti. “How do you provide a full-time officer to work this problem when the manpower is not there? Volunteers! There are many people out there who are more than willing to help if what they do is appreciated,” he says.
Tip #3: Educate Youth
Education is vital to effective graffiti prevention. Studies show that the majority of “taggers” are males between 12 and 21 years old, according to KAB. The Graffiti Hurts Web site (www.graffitihurts.org) offers a curriculum and online game to incorporate graffiti education into classroom activities, after-school programs, and youth group activities. Site managers can also download an educational poster to display at their sites.
Tip #4: Maintain Database of Graffiti Sites, Abatement Activities
Keeping a database can help in numerous ways:
It tracks the location of all reported graffiti vandalism; helps identify graffiti “hot” spots.
After graffiti is removed, the cost of removal can be logged in and used when charging a graffiti vandal. Removal costs for each site help to charge offenders with the exact amount of damage for each “tag” incident, which can add up quickly.
It helps police keep track of specific “tags.” This can assist in their investigation to identify and catch graffiti vandals.
It improves communication among law enforcement, the cleanup entity, and the courts. Adapt the database to be useful and accessible to all parties that participate in the graffiti prevention, removal, and apprehension activities.
Tip #5: Build Graffiti Prevention into Environment
You can deter or block vandals from reaching typical graffiti sites by doing the following:
Incorporate natural deterrents, such as landscaping. Shrubs, thorny plants, and vines will effectively restrict vandal access.
Direct or add lighting to promote natural surveillance.
Use fences, controlled entrances and exits, rails, and other barriers that discourage through traffic.
Limit access to roofs by moving Dumpsters away from walls and covering drainpipes to prevent vandals from scaling them.
Use graffiti hoods to buffer freeway signs.
Incorporate metal baffles on sign poles, similar to squirrel baffles on bird feeders.
Randy Campbell: President and Executive Director, The Nograf Network Inc.; (509) 531-1334; www.nograffiti.com.