Graffiti taggers can vandalize facilities and also set the tone for a downturn of an area, if not stopped and the markings cleaned up quickly.

There are many types of graffiti. The most common is something called, “tagger” graffiti. This type consists of “tags,” “throw-ups” and “pieces.” A “tag” is the graffiti vandal’s moniker. This is usually applied quickly and repetitively. A “throw-up” is a more elaborate tag, which usually involves two or more colors. Vandals often use wide round balloon shaped letters which may or may not have the outline filled in.

“Pieces,” short for “masterpieces,” are large drawings with comic book graphics. This type of graffiti is very colorful and quite often includes cartoon-type characters. Because of the detail, “pieces” can take an hour or more to complete.

Random Attacks

Most of the graffiti seen in corporate, government and street examples is something called, “generic” or “conventional” graffiti. They include random markings, initials, declarations of love, social commentary, profanity, graduation event and other non-threatening messages.

There are numerous studies; however, that graffiti is a gateway to more serious crime.

So how can we as business owners prevent ourselves from being tagged over and over again?

Security executives and their enterprises must be vigilant and take a zero tolerance approach to removing graffiti. Graffiti taggers like to admire their work and want to see it on display for a long time. If it’s gone within 24 hours, the discouraged vandal usually moves on.

If you have a property where the landscaping is overgrown and the parking lot is littered with garbage, you can be assured vandals will come calling. Making efforts to keep the appearance of your property neat and tidy will send a no tolerance message to these menacing individuals.

Lighting Helps

Adding extra lighting around a facility will help thwart the bad guys. Where possible try to guide these low-lifes away from the business by building barriers like staggered fences (this will create an uneven painting surface) and planting thorny plants and bushes near the barricades.

Select mid colors for those target areas. This will help your business from being on the target list because taggers usually prefer very light or very dark surfaces to inflict their damage. Staying away from light colors will also make it easier in the event you need to do some touch-up.

There are many graffiti resistant coatings you can purchase to help discourage taggers. These products are applied directly to the surface. When paint is sprayed on the surface, it will congeal rendering the vandal’s message illegible.

If more and more businesses in your area are getting targeted, security executives should meet with local police and the Chamber of Commerce and organize a community event to help wipe out graffiti. The Chamber of Commerce or a local business association should help to educate others on the importance of dealing with this growing problem.

Graffiti is like a contagious disease; if left untreated, it will only spread, according to Frank Fourchalk.

Cooperative Business Programs

Some cities are fighting the problem with cash reward programs whereas if you see a vandal applying graffiti to a property or business, instruct your security officers to call 911. Once the reporting person’s name and contact information is given to the police, that person is required to complete a Graffiti Reward Program Claim Form. If the call leads to a conviction you could receive your reward money.

Man cities are working on initiatives like restricting the sale of paint to minors. Businesses that don’t comply could face up to a $5000 fine. Whatever the case, a solution is not an easy one. However, security can do its part by urging employees and others report any graffiti activity to local police.

Graffiti is like a contagious disease; if left untreated, it will only spread. Realize that graffiti is criminal damage displaying an anti-social statement. Its only goal is to degrade the business community. If left untreated, one thing is for sure: You will certainly pay the consequences.

SIDEBAR: Cameras to Catch Graffiti Vandals

There is a new, high tech method to catch or deter graffiti vandals. The California city of Montebello recently showed off a $1 million security video systems, connected to an application called TaggerTrap, which – believe it or not – alarms to the sound of an aerosol can in use up to 90 feet. The plan is for 120 cameras around town positioned at key areas that attract taggers. Los Angeles already has more than 50 cameras, tied to motion detectors, and – when alarmed—give a verbal warning to taggers.