When done in the proper context, graffiti can be a healthy form of self-expression and artistic ability. That kind of graffiti involves permission from the property owner and possibly the local government. In that context, it is a commissioned work of art. Graffiti is a form of vandalism that is popular among youths. They see “tagging” as a way to get recognition from their peer group and voice frustrations. Most instances of graffiti vandalism are opportunistic in nature. If it’s not dealt with and removed quickly, the vandals will realize it’s there to stay and they will come back to tag again. There are ways to prevent graffiti that are effective in preventing your building from turning into a blight.
If you are designing and building a new structure, consider using graffiti-proof surfaces. A large, smooth wall looks like a blank canvas. Use rough, uneven surfaces, such as brick or stone, to discourage tagging. Try using non-porous materials that are resistant to the paint or ink, or that they have trouble adhering to.
Vandals tend to operate after hours, in the dark. They can evade detection and law enforcement easier at night. Install adequate lighting around your building’s perimeter and keep it out of the shadows. Sensor lighting that detects movement will surprise the vandals and make them scatter.
Plants and Other Vegetation
Combat graffiti by planting bushes, trees, or other vegetation around the building. The vegetation will make it more difficult to reach the building. Creeping vines will eventually cover the wall completely, making it impossible to spray paint. The vandals will have no choice but to move on. The added benefit is that the plants will improve the overall look of the building and neighborhood.
Persistent vandals that continue to tag your building might never give up. In that case, coat the walls with anti-graffiti coatings. Coatings such as black asphalt paint are difficult to paint on, and they are easy to cover up if they are struck by vandals. There are invisible or tinted anti-graffiti coatings that make the paint pool up on the surface rather than soak into the wall. They are all effective deterrents and allow for fast clean-up and removal.
People tend to behave better when they are being watched—or even just think that they are. Install security cameras and make them visible. Put them towards the roof and on the corners so every inch of the property is under surveillance. If you can’t afford a sophisticated security system, get a fake one. Use fake cameras that don’t record anything; after all, the vandals don’t know they aren’t real. Perception is the reality, and that perception will make them run.
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