How does graffiti “hurt”?
Graffiti contributes to reduced retail
sales, a decline in property values, and citizen fear. A business
littered with graffiti is less likely to be patronized. Citizens feel
less safe and secure entering a storefront where graffiti is present.
The following information has been
produced by Graffiti
Hurts and Keep America Beautiful,
1. Ongoing upkeep
Make every effort to keep the
appearance of a facility clean and neat. According to the Los Angeles
Police Department, an exterior appearance that suggests apathy and
neglect attracts vandals.
Littered parking lots, graffiti, broken
fences, overgrown landscaping, and poor lighting all send a message to
vandals that business owners are not attentive or do not care about
2. Rapid removal
Rapid and continual removal of graffiti
is the best way for businesses and commercial property owners to
protect the image of their street and preserve customers’ sense of
security. Studies show that removal within 24 to 48 hours results in a
nearly zero rate of reoccurrence.
3. Control access
Incorporate shrubs, thorny plants, and
vines to restrict vandal access. Add or improve lighting around the
building to promote natural surveillance. Use fences, controlled
entrance and exits, rails, and other barriers that discourage through
traffic. Limit access to roofs by moving dumpsters away from walls and
covering drainpipes to prevent vandals from scaling them.
4. Step up security
Install some type of security camera.
Organize a “Business Watch” with nearby merchants to keep tabs on a
business area. Businesses may want to employ security personnel to
monitor property. Don’t allow a “legal wall”, or an area that permits
graffiti, at your business; they are largely ineffective and may draw
more graffiti vandals to the area. Employ graffiti resistant materials
or coatings on a chronically hit wall.
5. Work with the community
Mount a community mural on a
chronically hit wall. Print graffiti prevention messages on bags,
sales flyers, tray liners, book covers, calendars, and other
promotional items. Work with other merchants to organize and
contribute to a “paint bank.” Paints, rollers, brushes, and other
equipment from the bank are “borrowed” as needed. Ensure safe and
environmentally appropriate storage of paint. Consider a fire station
to house the paint bank. Refrain from using graffiti images in ads or
promoting graffiti in any way.
1 Cornelius Ashton and Jordan Mirakian,
“Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design: The Linda Vista
Continuing Education Center,” Campus Law Enforcement Journal Volume:
31 Issue: 4 July/August 2001, pp. 19, 21-22.
2 Los Angeles Police Department, “Los
Angeles Police Department Commercial Burglary Prevention Circular,”
3 Jay Beswick and Ernie Garrett,
Graffiti Prevention Systems, data from over 1,500 sites in Los Angeles
County from 1990-1991.
Local graffiti ordinances vary, but
usually dictate how quickly graffiti must be removed and who is
responsible for removal.
In most cases, private businesses are
responsible for removing graffiti on their property. In some
communities, the city will remove the graffiti, but charge the
business owner a fee. Other cities clean up graffiti on private
property at no charge to the owner.
Also, graffiti removal by someone other
than the business owner usually requires permission from the
owner/agent. Find out how graffiti removal on private property is
handled in your community.
Get a copy of any local graffiti ordinance.
Contact the police to report graffiti
vandalism using a non-emergency number. Some cities have an 800 number
for reporting graffiti. Make sure police complete an incident report,
a common requirement of insurance companies.
Identify. Work with local authorities to
identify if the graffiti is being done by taggers or gangs. Check with
law enforcement about safety concerns when removing gang graffiti.
Document. Take a picture of the graffiti
before it is removed. Photographs will assist law enforcement in their
graffiti promptly and completely.
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To select the appropriate method for
graffiti removal, consider the surface, access, costs, and any local
restrictions. Municipal governments often have removal and restoration
guidelines for graffiti cleanup. Removal methods may include:
Paint out – on painted
surfaces, painting over graffiti is a low-cost removal method. Be
sure to color
match the paint to the surface. A patchwork of paint or a large
block of different color paint is an ideal canvas and will invite
Chemical removal – this method
employs some type of solvent to remove graffiti.
Power washing – this removes
graffiti by applying water, usually hot, under pressure. Power
washing may also be used after applying a paint solvent to the
graffiti area. An abrasive, such as baking soda or fine sand, may
also be added to the water to remove a thin layer of the surface,
and with it, the graffiti.
Consider pooling resources with other
merchants and together contract with a company that specializes in
graffiti removal. This will encourage quick and appropriate removal.
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graffiti prevention resources, tap in to Graffiti
find a local Keep America
Beautiful affiliate at www.kab.org.
To prevent theft and illegal purchase
of graffiti tools through responsible retailing, visit the National
Council to Prevent Delinquency at
and Keep America Beautiful, Inc., 2003. 1010 Washington
Blvd., Stamford, CT 06901
The Business Graffiti Tips
can be printed in
its entirety by
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