As urban sprawl continues to push beyond the Greater Toronto Area, many small towns on its perimeter are growing at an unprecedented rate. This comes with many positives, including a larger tax base and more diverse local economy. However, it also means these towns are coping with big-city problems for the first time, including graffiti problems.
Graffiti has always existed in small towns, but usually at the hands of occasional school-aged delinquents, not persistent vandals. It’s a much bigger problem when people are returning to tag the same spot over and over because persistent graffiti tends to attract other forms of vandalism as well.
What’s the best course of action when a store keeps getting hit by graffiti? That depends on what’s missing. There’s always a reason why a store becomes the repeated target for graffiti artists, and it usually has to do with a lack of deterrence.
The first step to ending a persistent graffiti problem is to figure out if the location is missing any of the following deterrents:
- Proper lighting. Vandals rely on the cover of darkness. If the current outdoor lighting leaves blind spots, or is too dim, the store will need an LED parking lot lighting upgrade to prevent further vandalism.
- Trees and shrubbery along the walls. Bare walls are an invitation for graffiti. The easiest way to curb this problem is to plant trees and shrubs along the bottoms of the walls. Most vandals are opportunists and will not bother trudging through thick greenery to reach the higher areas.
- No easy access to rooftops. Are there ladders, electrical transformers, dumpsters, or other fixtures along the walls of the building that can be used to reach the roof? If so, either move them away from the wall or block access using a fence.
- Security cameras. Cameras don’t always prevent graffiti, but they serve as a strong deterrent to many potential vandals. If a proper surveillance system is not in the budget, even dummy cameras can help a store that keeps getting hit by graffiti.
- Clean property. Vandals are more attracted to properties that appear run down because they know the owner is less likely to respond. Keeping the property clean and tidy will fix that part of the problem (this includes removing graffiti ASAP.) Good lighting will also enhance the appearance of the store, another reason why it may need an LED parking lot lighting upgrade.
Beyond these steps, it may become necessary to hire a nighttime security guard for until graffiti artists get the message that the owner is serious. As mentioned, most vandals are opportunists who look for easy targets, so upping the security presence even briefly will help deter them.