How Businesses Can Prevent Graffiti Vandalism

Prevention is more efficient than continually removing graffiti from a commercial property

Key takeaways

  • Graffiti is a significant problem for business owners in locations around the country.
  • Removing unwanted graffiti is expensive, and this vandalism also hinders property values.
  • Investing in monitored video surveillance can deter graffiti “artists.”

Graffiti can be beautiful when it’s wanted, and businesses can attract customers with tasteful street art in their exterior décor. Mural arts programs in cities like Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Miami, Houston, and Chicago have helped normalize graffiti-style artwork and beautify the urban ecosystem in those locations.

But unwanted graffiti has the opposite effect, potentially scaring customers away and creating headaches for business owners. A paper by paint manufacturer Valspar reports that graffiti-based vandalism costs American businesses and cities about $12 billion in annual cleanup expenses, pointing to a significant problem in municipalities nationwide.

The same paper reports that graffiti has a cumulative effect on neighborhoods because of its association with gangs and crime, reducing retail sales and public transit ridership. Estimates also suggest a 25-30% drop in commercial real estate values when there’s a graffiti problem within two blocks of a building.

These numbers make it crucial for impacted companies to implement graffiti cleanup and prevention protocols. Here’s some information on how American businesses can prevent this form of vandalism from becoming a serious problem on their buildings.

The different types of graffiti 

Graffiti is typically used to describe any undesirable markings or paintings on public or private property. It’s a form of vandalism that usually isn’t reported to the police because catching those responsible is so challenging. 

If you find graffiti on your commercial building, it will probably fall into one of five categories:

  1. Perhaps the most problematic form is gang graffiti. When you find it on your building, it usually means that a gang is marking its territory with threats against rival gangs. 
  2. However, you could have copycat gang graffiti, which mimics gang activity but is typically harmless. Local law enforcement should be able to tell you if your area has a gang problem or not.
  3. Next, you could encounter tagger graffiti. Taggers often leave a symbol in many parts of town as a form of expression. Tagger graffiti usually isn’t dangerous but can get expensive if the artist returns repeatedly.
  4. Traditional graffiti is usually associated with youths who have nothing better to do with their time. These ‘artists’ usually won’t become a long-term problem for businesses.

  5. Finally, ideological graffiti is when you begin seeing messages of a political or ideological nature on your commercial building. It could include racial or ethnic slurs, making it essential to clean it up quickly.

Common graffiti locations

As a business owner, you’ll want to keep an eye out for graffiti around your commercial property. Walls, fences, sheds, and parking garages make excellent canvases, particularly in street-facing areas with a decent amount of traffic.

It’s also advisable to look around your neighborhood for signs this vandalism is becoming a problem because it’s very likely to spread once it begins.

One of the most prevalent graffiti spots is around transit spaces. Bus and subway stations are common targets because they see a lot of traffic during the day, giving the artist a large audience. They’re also dark and isolated at night, providing cover for the offender.

Traffic signs and billboards are also frequent targets because they provide the individual with a massive platform. The goal is to have as many people see the graffiti as possible, and these signs are front and center in their neighborhoods.

You could see graffiti in parks for many of the same reasons as transit stations. These locations offer the cover of darkness at night, making it less likely the authorities will catch painters, and plenty of daytime traffic.

Removing graffiti

Once you realize there’s graffiti on your property, removing it efficiently is essential. Some cities have laws stating you must remove a painting within 48 hours. But even if no such law exists, addressing the vandalism within 24 to 48 hours significantly reduces the odds of a recurrence

Options for removing graffiti include pressure washing, stripping the paint, sandblasting, or using chemical removers. The problem is that you’ll probably have to repaint the surface, leaving a fresh canvas for future vandals. 

Developing a prevention method is essential in these situations because continually removing graffiti and repainting a building is exhausting and expensive.

Ways to prevent graffiti vandalism

Stopping graffiti from becoming a problem for your business could involve preventative measures

For instance, you could apply a graffiti-resistant coating over your building’s main surfaces. These coatings come in various forms, with some washing away easily and taking the graffiti with them and others preventing the paint from bonding to them. The result is far easier cleanup. 

Another solution is installing surveillance cameras in spots graffiti artists have previously targeted or could hit in the future. These cameras act as a deterrent by making it possible to identify the vandals and bring criminal charges.

Monitored video surveillance systems have trained security personnel watching the feed. These guards can then intervene by sounding alarms, speaking directly with the trespassers through the system’s intercom, and contacting the authorities.

Get the right video surveillance system for your business

Using a video surveillance solution to curb a graffiti problem is an efficient option because it also prevents theft and other crimes on your commercial property. It’s an all-in-one security solution, providing peace of mind to business owners throughout the country.

Mobile Video Guard provides monitored video surveillance systems to businesses of all sizes. We can develop a custom solution for you, ensuring prime graffiti targets have optimal coverage. Contact Mobile Video Guard today to get a quote.

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