Summer Vandalism Prevention

Summer Vandalism Prevention Tips

By Matt Komac Property & Liability Claim Adjuster and Linda Coombs, Property & Liability Claim Adjuster

The summer months can present challenges when it comes to protecting school campuses from burglary, vandalism, and arson.  Empty campuses can represent temptations for mischievous kids and even adults, while warm summer temperatures and the late-night sunlight can mean that people are active later in the evening and thus looking for something to do.  Under such circumstances as these, secured facilities invite unlawful entry, theft, and vandalism. 

Although school crimes are committed by a diverse group of people for an assorted range of reasons, three prominent profiles emerge when we look at such common school crimes as burglary, vandalism, and arson.

  • Opportunistic thrill seekers – in many instances, these are otherwise law-abiding individuals who mistakenly believe that they have nothing better to do.
  • Motivated and malicious offenders – these are often young people who have displayed behavioral problems in school, received discipline for prior incidents, and/or are individuals who may be suspended or expelled at the time of the incident. Motivated in many cases to make a retributive point, these offenders may act out years after leaving the school. 
  • Common criminals – these are often individuals who target the school simply because it contains high-value items such as computers and audio-visual equipment (their intent is typically burglary, not vandalism).

While there are many ways to prevent or reduce school crime, the fact is that limited budgets constrain the financial resources that can be earmarked for crime prevention.  With this monetary limit in mind, districts can take some steps as these to minimize exposure: 

When protecting a school’s interior—

  • Keep unoccupied buildings, rooms, and spaces locked when not in use;
  • Keep window coverings closed to hide room contents;
  • Store valuable equipment in secure rooms, preferably without windows;
  • Remove money from the building – if petty cash is needed, keep it locked it in a safe;
  • Collect keys from all staff not needing access to the school in the summer;
  • Unplug non-essential electrical equipment and close gas supply valves not in use;
  • Check to be sure-fire and intrusion alarms are working properly;
  • Install security cameras internally and externally;
  • Maintain the security system you already have.

When protecting the exterior –

  • Cut back weeds and other vegetation around the campus to reduce fire risks and hiding places;
  • Ensure those fire hydrants on and near school grounds are visible and unobstructed;
  • Secure roof hatches, operable skylights, rooftop equipment doors, and any other access panels;
  • Secure garbage cans and schedule occasional garbage pickup dates;
  • Secure gates that prevent vehicles from parking near campus buildings;
  • Keep school grounds and buildings policed – add or increase nightly patrol of campus;
  • Get to know the neighbors and ask them to help keep an eye on the school campus;
  • Invite your local law enforcement departments to visit the campus at various hours of the day and night;
  • Routinely inspect exterior doors, fences, and gates for damage and faulty hardware;
  • Install exterior security lights, including motion sensor lights;
  • Secure all athletic equipment in locked storage areas;
  • Post warning signs – signs should clearly indicate that the premises are alarmed and under video surveillance. Return to newsletter