What Can Vandalism Cost a Business?
Vandalism, the criminal act of willfully destroying or defacing property, can create an unpleasant and unsafe atmosphere within your business for employees and customers alike. Graffiti, broken windows, landscape sabotage, destroyed signage and defaced property are widespread forms of vandalism affecting commercial properties. Vandals can cost businesses thousands of dollars in damage to property, image and reputation, not to mention the costs associated with preventing further destruction.
Repair and replacement costs may be substantial, depending on the extent of the vandalism. Paint must be bought to cover graffiti, windows have to be ordered to replace those that are broken, and new landscaping materials will have to be purchased and installed if necessary. If you are unable to complete these tasks on your own, you will have to hire someone to do so, adding to the overall cost. Signage may have been bent or scratched beyond repair; therefore, new signage will need to be designed and purchased. In the meantime, your business may be unidentifiable by potential customers.
Vandalism may create the impression of an economically depressed area causing a significant reduction in new and existing customer traffic. Vandalism also discourages business within an affected area, by creating a feeling of diminished safety and security. For instance, graffiti is often associated with gang activity, and a fear of violent criminals can deter customers. This reduction in customer traffic directly affects the amount of sales revenue your company generates. Some companies feel the effects of vandalism so deeply they are forced to move to a different neighborhood just to remain in business.
Vandalism may tarnish your company’s image and reputation in the eyes of your customers and employees. Customers may associate a lack of caring about the exterior condition of your business with reduced quality or inferior customer service. Employees may lose confidence in the safety of their work area, for fear of encountering the criminal who conducted the vandalism. This could lead to workplace turnover, and all the costs associated with hiring and training new employees.
The amount and type of vandalism, combined with the length of time before it is removed or repaired, may encourage further vandalism in the area. For example, if graffiti is the chosen communication method between two rival gangs, it will be applied in highly visible areas. If your business is the chosen location, quickly covering the graffiti is recommended to curb the amount of time the message is displayed, as additional, rebuttal graffiti may appear. Neighborhoods rife with graffiti and other vandalism may be attractive to other criminals, as they may perceive it as a lack of caring within the community. For these reasons, simply being located in an area with other vandalism puts your business at risk.
Measures may be taken to improve security and reduce access to your property. Installing visible surveillance cameras and an alarm system can provide a significant deterrent against criminal activity. Erecting fences with ID card access controls and installing better lighting can prevent unwanted individuals from entering your premises. Various types of landscaping can assist with keeping vandals away, such as prickly shrubs or closely planted hedges. While costly, implementing one or more of these measures may save you considerably in the long run.