Businesses across America have been hit with significant damage from riots and looting during the summer of 2020. That’s on top of lost revenues caused by shutdown orders enacted in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
In Downtown Denver alone, business owners lost tens of thousands of dollars each from graffiti, broken windows and stolen goods during May protests. Still, the Mile High City has fared better than other U.S. cities, according to Max Segall, Branch Manager for Mid America Specialty Services (MASS) in Denver.
During a typical year, downtown properties can experience about 1-2 acts of vandalism, but that number increases quite a bit during periods of social unrest. Segall observes that a number of MASS clients who don’t normally see vandalism have been hit this year. The most common targets include alleyways and the sides of buildings. All architectural surfaces are vulnerable, he points out, including stone, brick, concrete, glass and metal.
In this article, we’ll go over the steps managers must take when vandalism occurs. We’ll also talk about the important role of professional vandalism repair services in getting your business back on its feet.
Act Quickly When Vandalism Occurs
Time is of the essence when your property suffers an act of vandalism, whether you witness the incident first-hand or discover the damage the next morning. Here are the steps to take immediately after vandalism takes place:
- Stay safe: Avoid broken glass and other debris that could cause injury, and make sure all doors are locked.
- Notify law enforcement: Many insurers require a police report when filing vandalism claims. The officers will assist you with any necessary paperwork and collect any evidence that may help them identify the perpetrators.
- Notify your insurer: Your representative will walk you through the claims process. Be as specific as possible when reporting what happened and the nature of the damage.
- Take pictures: Your insurer will need evidence of the damage you’ve suffered. Gather names and contact any witnesses. Ask them to write down or record as many details as they can recall.
- Take inventory: Write a detailed summary of all architectural assets damaged, from spray painted walls to scratched or broken glass. Make a list of all stolen merchandise and other items. Assemble receipts from damaged or stolen items.
Enlist the Help of Professional Vandalism Repair Services
Another critical step is to reach out to an experienced vandalism repair provider as quickly as possible. Segall emphasizes that, with graffiti in particular, “the longer it sits there, the more it gets baked into the stone.”
While it’s okay to begin light cleanup yourself, such as sweeping up debris, trained professionals are best equipped to handle major repair work. Attempting vandalism repair on your own may result in injury and often makes the damage worse. This is especially true of softer stones such as limestone and marble, as well as metals like titanium. These materials are especially vulnerable to unwanted etching or burnishing from improper cleanup methods.
Segall describes one incident in which a manager attempted to remove spray paint from a limestone wall using a power washer. As a result, the stain ended up being even harder to get off.
There are many challenges that crop up when repairing vandalized assets. Trained refinishers, such as those with expertise in facade restoration, will know how to address these issues. One such problem, known as ghosting, occurs when a small amount of paint remains when removing graffiti from stone or brick. Sometimes it is impossible to remove all of the paint without also removing bits of the surface material. In such cases, Segall explains, technicians will add color back after treatment to restore the appearance of the surface.
Repair work can include the removal of chemical etching from windows and other exterior glass. Depending on the material and the extent of the damage, technicians may be able to remove or reduce the appearance of scratches. However, it isn’t always possible to remove every scratch left behind. For example, scratches on glass are harder to remove the closer to the edge they are located. Surface refinishing is also not always sufficient to remove scratches or dents from metal surfaces.
Professionals from MASS utilize advanced products and techniques to restore brick, concrete, stone, glass and metal surfaces damaged by vandalism. If you’re in need of vandalism repair service at your place of business, please get in touch with us right away.