Guide to Preventing Home Vandalism

Updated: June 19, 2024

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Vandalism, characterized by unwanted damage or defacement, can lead to costly repairs and significant stress. While homeowners insurance can help cover damages, taking proactive steps to deter vandalism can enhance home security and prevent claims. You can take several measures to safeguard your home, from installing security equipment to engaging with neighbors for community vigilance.

What Is Home Vandalism?

Home vandalism involves intentional damage or destruction of private property. Malicious mischief, often associated with vandalism, is intentional damage that is generally less severe, like toilet papering or egging a house. However, if an egg breaks a window, it can be considered vandalism.

Common types of home vandalism include:

  • Graffiti: Unauthorized writing or drawings on walls, fences or other surfaces.
  • Property Damage: Deliberate destruction of windows, doors, vehicles or garden structures.
  • Arson: Setting fire to property, causing extensive damage and posing significant safety risks.
  • Defacement: Tampering with or destroying personal items, signage or decorations.

In whatever form it takes, home vandalism can lead to financial losses and disrupt homeowners' peace and security.

Practical Tips to Prevent Home Vandalism

Preventing home vandalism requires proactive measures and strategic decisions. Effective deterrence spans from simple daily actions to more sophisticated installations. Here are some practical tips to protect your residence from vandalism:

Illuminate Your Property

Darkness may embolden vandals, so it's wise to install robust outdoor lighting systems to illuminate your property. Position lights to cover walkways, driveways and other key areas. Maintain your lights regularly for consistent illumination. Ensure your lights are water-resistant to lengthen their lifespan and reduce maintenance costs.

The average costs of outdoor light installation are featured below. Remember that prices can vary depending on factors such as your existing landscaping, the amount of wiring needed, project difficulty and the type of lights and fixtures. Local weather conditions can also affect the cost.

Cost Estimates for Outdoor Lighting Installation

Project Type
Cost

Average Cost

$4,000

High Cost

$6,000

Low Cost

$2,000

Source: HomeAdvisor

Install a Protective Fence

A fence can add curb appeal and deter potential vandals by acting as a physical barrier. When choosing the right material, consider your house style and the height of your property. Opt for tall, solid fences made of durable wood or vinyl that obscure sightlines to enhance security. Always follow county codes and homeowners association (HOA) rules to avoid violating regulations.

We included the average costs of fence installation by material below:

Cost Ranges for Fence Installation by Material

Material
Average Price Range per Linear Foot

Wood

$17–45

Vinyl

$10–40

Chainlink

$15–30

Aluminum

$17–90

Steel

$17–90

Source: HomeAdvisor

Implement a Security System

Investing in a security system can reduce the risk of vandalism by deterring potential culprits. The installation cost for a home security system varies and depends on several factors, including materials, installation fees and other associated costs, such as activation fees. You may also need to pay monthly fees for additional services. The national average cost for a home security system is $490, but it ranges between $200 for a basic self-install kit and $2,000 for a premium, professional system.

In addition to security system installation, you typically need to account for a basic equipment package, which may include a control panel, sensors and a siren and cost up to $600. Choose a dependable brand with a history of effective vandalism deterrence. Look for features like motion sensors, ringing alarms and surveillance cameras. Maintain and update your system regularly to ensure optimal performance.

Plant Privacy Bushes

Privacy bushes can deter potential vandals. Dense, thorny or rough bushes can hinder unauthorized access while enhancing your property's aesthetics. You can also choose bushes that provide optimum coverage and are visually appealing.

Build Strong Neighborhood Connections

Strong neighborly bonds create a powerful deterrent, maintaining vigilance and quick response to suspicious activities. Establish a mutual surveillance system where neighbors watch for each other's properties. Engage in community activities and neighborhood watch programs to promote a safer environment.

Reporting Vandalism and Making a Claim

If your property is vandalized, swift reporting enhances the chances of capturing the culprits and accelerates the claims process. Prompt action can lead to quicker resolution and containment of the situation.

Here are the immediate steps to take after home vandalism and how to effectively report vandalism and make a claim:

1
Call the Police and File a Report

This report is vital for your insurance claim, providing a detailed and accurate account of the damages.

2
Document the Damage

Take photographs or videos of the crime scene for evidence. These visual aids can strengthen your claim.

3
Avoid Immediate Repairs

Refrain from making repairs before your claims adjuster assesses the damage.

4
Contact Your Insurance Company

File a claim promptly, ensuring you have all necessary documentation, including photos, videos and an inventory of damaged items.

5
Submit Your Claim

Submit your claim through your insurer's website, mobile app or phone, including all evidence and the police report. Consider getting repair estimates from local contractors.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Vandalism?

A standard homeowners insurance policy typically covers vandalism under the "perils" section. This protection safeguards homeowners from intentional and malicious damage to parts of the premises for which they are responsible and their personal property. Vandalism coverage is especially important for properties unoccupied during certain times, like churches and schools, which can become targets due to the lower risk of vandals being caught.

Landlords can also benefit from this type of policy, especially if some of their properties are in high-crime areas. For renters, the coverage scenario is slightly different. Renters insurance usually covers vandalism, but this protection is for personal belongings rather than the building structure, which is the landlord's responsibility.

Coverage for vandalism may be subject to specific conditions and exclusions, so be sure to review your policy details to understand the extent of your protection.

What Is and Isn’t Covered Under Vandalism in Home Insurance

Understanding what is and isn't covered under homeowners insurance can help you anticipate the support you'll receive if vandalism occurs. A standard homeowners insurance policy may exclude certain scenarios. For instance, vehicle damage is not covered under homeowners insurance, even if the vehicle is parked on your property. Comprehensive auto insurance is required for this kind of vehicle damage. Additionally, homes unoccupied for over 60 days are considered high-risk by insurers and are generally not covered for vandalism and theft.

Below are scenarios that homeowners insurance typically covers and doesn't cover:

Vandalism That Home Insurance Does and Doesn't Cover

Generally Covered:
  • Graffiti or paint damage
  • Broken windows or doors
  • Property defacement
  • Damaged fences
  • Arson damage
  • Plumbing or structural damage
  • Garden and yard devastation
  • Property damage during a home invasion
Generally Not Covered:
  • Vandalism by the insured
  • Vandalism to vehicles
  • Vandalism to land and landscaping
  • Vandalism to home-based business
  • Vandalism to vacant homes

How to Update an Insurance Policy to Cover Vandalism

Vandalism is a common claim made by homeowners, yet it is not always included in standard policies. Updating your insurance policy to include vandalism coverage boosts your home security measures and protects against fluctuating local crime rates and potential property damage.

Here's how to update your insurance policy for your needs:

1
Review Your Existing Policy

Conduct a thorough review to determine your current coverage and requirements.

2
Contact Your Insurance Provider

Discuss your specific circumstances with your insurance agent to ensure you have the appropriate coverage levels.

3
Understand Coverage Options and Costs

Learn about available coverage options, including deductibles and premium increases.

4
Increase Coverage Limits if Necessary

Assess your property's vulnerability to determine if higher coverage limits are needed.

5
Familiarize Yourself With Policy Terms

Understand the terms and conditions related to vandalism claims.

6
Prepare for Documentation and Reporting

Ensure you can promptly document and report any incidents of vandalism.

Additional Resources

These resources offer valuable information and tools to help you enhance the security of your home and effectively prevent vandalism.

  • AreaVibes: Check your neighborhood safety score based on crime rate, cost of living, employment, education and other relevant factors.
  • Crime Data Explorer: Stay updated on crime trends in your state and nationwide to better understand your area's risks.
  • Crime Map: Use this interactive crime map to find the nearest police department and check recent crime incidents in your neighborhood.
  • Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CSIA): Get tips on ensuring physical and cyber security to prevent breaches and vandalism.
  • National Crime Prevention Council: Access crime prevention and personal safety tips and information on home and neighborhood safety.
  • National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB): Get information on preventing insurance fraud, theft and vandalism. They also provide resources for reporting suspicious activity.
  • National Neighborhood Watch: Join a neighborhood watch program to participate in crime prevention in your community.
  • SpotCrime: Check crime reports in your neighborhood or nearby communities. Set up an email alert subscription to receive daily and weekly alerts for free.

About Nathan Paulus


Nathan Paulus headshot

Nathan Paulus is the Head of Content Marketing at MoneyGeek, with nearly 10 years of experience researching and creating content related to personal finance and financial literacy.

Paulus has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of St. Thomas, Houston. He enjoys helping people from all walks of life build stronger financial foundations.


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