Vandals on the move: damaged tyres and glued keyholes[Taavi Ottoson, Dagmar Gilden | 16.02]
Paint bombs thrown at the facades of residential buildings, door locks filled with glue or gum, costs of graffiti removal amounting to thousands of euros – these are some of the instances of major damage that malicious people have inflicted on homeowners at night. What should you do if your property has been damaged due to vandalism?
According to Dagmar Gilden, Product Manager of Seesam Property Insurance, the most common targets for vandals in the case of homes are door locks, which are broken or stuffed with glue or gum. Vandals are also big fans of rocks, which are often thrown at windows or door glasses and also against the facade of the building. According to the insurer, rock-throwers are often bored young people looking for action who do not even imagine that a rock thrown at a roof might damage the roof insofar as to bring about major repairs. Lately, stories of ill-wishing neighbours who damage the property of the other party in the course of disputes have also been published in the media. The damage ranges from fences to the outer parts of heat pumps and this is also classified as vandalism. “The average cost of vandalism damage amounts to 500 euros; however, the removal of major graffiti made overnight may cost up to 3000 euros for the homeowner,” says an insurance expert on vandalism damage.
According to motor comprehensive insurance statistics, vandalism loss events concerning vehicles can mainly be classified into one of two major categories: scratching a parked vehicle or breaking the components thereof, including damage to tyres. Even though the frequency of damage remains stable, the amounts required for indemnifying damage have steadily increased as vehicles are newer and spare parts are more expensive, plus the hourly rate for repair work has increased. “Last year, the largest amount of damage in the case of vandalism was 7000 euros. This was a case where all of the glasses and lights of the vehicle were broken, tyres were punctured and the interior of the vehicle was also damaged,” points out Taavi Ottoson, Product Manager of Seesam Vehicle Insurance.
According to insurers, it is not actually possible to protect yourself from the random acts of vandals; however, it would be good to bear in mind some pieces of advice once the property has already been damaged by vandalism.
If you catch a thief or a vandal at the scene of the event, very minor attention is generally required in order for the offender to cease their activities for the time being. However, it would not be wise to take too many risks, as you may become engaged in a conflict if you try to stop the crime. Therefore, it is reasonable to first call the police in order to ensure that the escalated situation is resolved in a professional environment. Pay close attention and tell the police about all of your suspicions. Try to remember as many details as possible and do not start examining the evidence independently. Try to keep the scene as untouched as possible until the police arrive.
Record the situation
Whether the matter at hand constitutes aggressive or vulgar drawings, scratched property or broken windows – the damage caused should be recorded and registered as quickly as possible. Experts also recommend recording the event with an image or video made with a smartphone, but the police should also definitely be informed of the damage. Police officers will take photographs of the damaged property, hear the persons and initiate misdemeanour proceedings, or criminal proceedings if the proprietary damage exceeds 3200 euros.
Call for help
Call for assistance for removing the damage, if required. The most grief is probably caused to people by small but extremely annoying damage such as damage to locks: there are instances of both broken locks as well as those filled with glue or gum. Even though in a financial sense, these constitute rather minor costs, being locked out of your home may cause significantly more frustration than scratches on your vehicle. Fortunately, most emergency locksmiths are available around-the-clock and, depending on your insurance cover, the callout service may be included in the price of monthly services.