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Vandalism and COVID-19

Vandalism and COVID-19

With the COVID-19 and stay at home orders, parks are experiencing an increase in vandalism and graffiti.  It is hard to understand why anyone would want to destroy a park, which is maintained and taken care of for our enjoyment. 

Some vandals may feel the park is part of an institution and destroying the park is a retribution in the eyes of the attacker, who felt they have been wrong by the authorities or maybe the community. 

But although parks are governed by the local authority in the form of park directors and rangers, the parks belong to the community. 

Communities with parks are healthier, both physically and mentally.  Parks provide a safe area to play, walk and enjoy the squirrels.  According to Premier Health, breathing fresh air can raise oxygen in your brain and levels of serotonin.  All this alleviates stress and helps you sleep better.

So, why would people destroy the area created for this purpose?   During the COVID-19 restrictions, even people who normally follow the laws are feeling constrained, depressed and angry.  And those who already tend to push legal boundaries, are lashing out in unlawful ways.

Enforcing the COVID-19 orders is not easy.  During these unpresented times, restraining the public to refrain from using the parks is going to require truth and grace. 

Tools to help:

  • Social Media: Use social media to educate the public on the importance of social distancing
  • Signs: Post signs being clear what is off limits and the rules of social distancing in your parks
  • Barriers: Use barriers to define the areas off limits
  • Nuisance Crime Cameras: Nuisance Crime Cameras were designed to stop all unwanted activity and can be customized to stop COVID activities in your park

#vandalisminparks

Prevent Vandalism in Park Bathrooms

Prevent Vandalism in Park Bathrooms

Restrooms are frequently vandalized in parks, because restrooms are usually private and there exists little chance of a restroom vandal being caught in the act of committing the crime. Acts of vandalism most often occur in situations where there is less civilian oversight, and thus, less of a likelihood of being caught.

After a park’s public restroom is vandalized, the sight of such a circumstance can have a negative psychological effect on people using the facility. Emotions triggered can often include feeling unsafe and dirty.  The facility is now labeled in the mind as unsanitary, neglected and unkept.

Instances of graffiti, one of the most common forms of vandalism, often experiences further recurrences if not quickly and thoroughly abated.  The cost of repairs due to vandalized restrooms can exceed tens of thousands of dollars and cause closures of the facility, often resulting in frustrated patrons who visit the park. The cost of repairs due to a vandalized park restroom causes budget cuts elsewhere, and leaves very little, if any, funding for regular, routine park maintenance.

If a public park restroom falls victim to an act of vandalism, repairs and a lack of routine maintenance and cleaning can leave the restroom facility in a state of neglect. This type of negligence can result in a restroom facility becoming extremely unsanitary and can often harbor diseases such as hepatitis A, as well as various viruses including shigellosis and streptococcus. Illnesses from viruses, like shigellosis and hepatitis A, are very severe and are common in unclean public restrooms.

With public park restroom vandalism being such a widespread occurrence, a means for preventing instances of vandalism are paramount in avoiding the costs associated with the crime.  Vandalism Cameras strategically placed deter negative behavior and prevent the costs incurred which include equipment repair, park closure, and the health of those people who enjoy the park.

Cost of Vandalism

Cost of Vandalism

What is vandalism?  According to Securipedia.eu, VANDALISM is the criminal act of willfully destroying or defacing property. According to an article in the Chron, the U.S. Small Business Administration states a single incident of vandalism costs on average $3,370.  Besides the business suffering, a possible consequence of  vandalism to the consumer is the increased cost of goods.  If you think about it, loss does not happen in a vacuum.  Eventually to stay in business, businesses will have to raise their prices to cover the cost of painting over graffiti or buying a security camera. According to the same article,  another unwanted consequence is the lack of jobs, goods and services, because any new business will think twice before they invest in an area where there are signs of vandalism or graffiti crime.

 

Besides the dollar amounts, vandalism can create another cost.  This second cost is more lasting as it affects the social well being of the entire neighborhood. An obvious example of this impact is vandalism creates a less than appealing neighborhood, which could cause a reduction in the value of the houses. Evidence of destruction of property certainly decreases the appeal, enjoyment and pleasure of the communities where people live and work. Unfortunately, cleaning up an area of destruction and graffiti is very difficult, as the neighborhood becomes a target and is hit again after the clean up.

 

Law enforcement experts dealing with nuisance crimes on a daily basis are quick to point out that vandalism is a true gateway crime. According to “Into the Abyss: A Personal Journey into the World of Street Gangs”,  Gangs use graffiti to communicate to each other threats, territory and even murder targets.  The marking of territory and the sending of messages indicates some type of organized crime.   Law officers understand this and the effects these crimes have on the community and how this problem can lead to more serious crimes.  Unfortunately,  most communities do not have the resources to deter and apprehend the perpetrators of  nuisance crimes.