Summer Vandalism Prevention

Summer Vandalism Prevention 

- Matt Komac, MSGIA Assistant Director for Property & Liability Pool Operations  

The summer months can present challenges when it comes to protecting school campuses from burglary, vandalism, and arson.  Empty campuses and vacant buildings represent temptations for mischievous kids and as well as adults; and though welcome after a long winter, warm summer temperatures and long days mean that people are active later in the evening and often looking for something to do.  Under such circumstances as these, unsecured facilities can invite unlawful entry, theft, and vandalism. 

Although school crimes are committed by a range of people for a 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 resources necessary for crime prevention and reduction.  With this monetary limit in mind, districts can, when seeking to protect a school’s interior, take the following steps to minimize exposure: 

  • Keep unoccupied buildings, rooms, and spaces locked when not in use;
  • Close window coverings 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 in a safe);
  • Collect keys from all staff not needing access to the school over the summer;
  • Store keys to equipment (lawn tractors, quads, etc.) in a separate location;
  • 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 internal and external security cameras; and,
  • Make sure the security system is maintained and functioning properly.

When protecting the exterior, take these steps:

  • Cut back weeds and other vegetation around the campus to reduce hiding places (and fire risks);
  • Ensure fire hydrants on and near school grounds are visible and unobstructed;
  • Make sure there are no easy access points to building rooftops;
  • 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 would 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 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; and,
  • Post warning signs clearly indicating that the premises are alarmed and under video surveillance. Return to newsletter