How to Identify Vandals, Criminal or Malicious Mischief Actors

Two Methods:Character and motivesCriminal study

How do you identify vandals? Are you interested in vandals and their crimes: What about damages to property, breakage or ruining -- versus -- losses in money value, without actual breakage... Here are suggestions.


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    Define vandalism -- "Deliberate mischievous or malicious destruction or damage of property, such as: vandalism of public or private buildings", extending to damaging private business, i.e.: possibly, causing loss of jobs, etc.[1]

    Vandalism is a crime, involving destructive, willful (not simply accidental) damage or devaluing the property of another or to the commons (public property).
    • Its seriousness depends on actors motivation, the value of property, extent of destruction and other damages (such as lower value of your property).
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    Realize that jail or prison sentences for vandalism can mean:
    • Misdemeanor -- sentences up to 12 months in jail, and/or fines plus court costs;
    • Felony -- over 12 months in prison and/or higher fines plus court costs (for each jurisdiction/laws of that location).
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    Beware: parents are responsible and accountable for damages, costs, and crimes of their minor children -- as well as the child being held responsible in part; what punishment or how damage is paid for or is corrected depends on laws of your area, jurisdiction (city, county, state or federal).
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    Avoid unsupervised, undisciplined children as a parent who will often be required to pay damages, large fines and/or face jail and loss of custody for child neglect (lack of supervision), allowing misdeeds such as vandalism.

Method 1
Character and motives

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    Identify vandals by their "action and target" (what vandals do?), all may be extensive, serious, expensive damage, some examples:
    • Mindlessly ransacking, tossing properties with/or without forced entry to do damage to interiors, randomly ruining walls and/or ceiling and floor surfaces/coverings, "aggravated by repeating these offenses, worse and worse" ;
    • Senselessly ruining home (and/or auto): breaking windows, doors, hinges, locks, may be aggravated (complicated) by burglary, i.e.: breaking and entering (without theft being proven);
    • Egg throwing; "salting": damages lawns, scrubs and trees, tricks: stink bombs, etc.;
    • Trespassing, possibly kids' gangs, roaming -- or roving alone -- possibly destructive mob-shoplifting;
    • Spraying paint, tagging and/or unwanted graffiti on others property;
    • Breaking security lighting, gluing locks, jamming keyholes;
    • Tire slashing, keying (scratching) car paint,
    • Flooding a house (clogging sinks, drains and leaving water running).
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    Identify and describe vandals by "motives" (why vandals do it?):
    • Envy and hatred of a person(s), neighbor -- or expressing disgruntlement, general anger at society and authorities;
    • Taking dares (or making dares) to trespass and damage, or wreck a home, or auto/or other vehicle, including unauthorized play, intruding/prowling around or in a building with destructiveness,
    • Bravado/swaggering, giving-in to (laying out/creating) peer pressure, to get peer crime/acceptance;
    • Intimidating, bullying, influencing usage of other's property;
    • Seek notoriety, such as: filming and posting online; possibly for gang culture, as large-scale gang graffiti;
    • Opportunistic and spontaneous sometimes, i.e.: originally unplanned activity that can mushroom, perhaps, into gross vandalism.

Method 2
Criminal study

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    Research criminology (for who are vandals?).
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    See the technical names for vandal types (called sub-types/typology) of vandalism by categories for/or to be:
    • Vindictive -- for revenge, or may be cultural -- may have class, ethnic, or racial bases.
    • Play -- preteen children’s games, with possibly older kids or teens' saying "We dare-you!".
    • Malicious -- mean, vicious damage, even violent if you are there, and you are not agreeing/or are resisting.
    • Acquisitive -- to get self or group enrichment, looting and theft -- including during riots.
    • Tactical -- breaking a window (possibly waiting for police) to get arrested, for a temporary bed and food in jail -- not for stealing, which has longer jail/prison terms.
    • Ideological -- delivering a message/for their ideals, possibly showing opposition to norms.
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    Peer Status -- recently added (sub-type), on group pressure of adults or youths, including gangs, possibly "unruly" union activists, or frenzied sport fans, or other kinds of unwanted, uncalled for activities of peer motivation, involving "group dynamics".
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    Check into authority (law) reaction to the "incivility" of vandals: punishment for vandals can be particularly severe in some countries. In Singapore, for example, a person who attempts to cause or commits an act of vandalism may be liable to imprisonment for up to 3 years and may also be punished with caning (beating). Vandalism in the United Kingdom (UK) is anti-social crime, punished under the Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO) court order, also:[2]
    • Former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani made a crackdown on vandalism a centerpiece of his anti-crime agenda in the 1990s, asserting that a strong campaign against nonviolent "quality of life" crimes such as vandalism would bring about a corresponding decrease in violent crime. According to FBI statistics, New York's crime rate plummeted during his tenure.
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    Compare to "Malicious Mischief": the name for criminal vandalism types of offenses in criminal jurisdictions of countries, states and/or provinces. While the "wrongful acts" will often involve what is popularly described as vandalism there can be a legal differentiation between the two, as malicious mischief does not have to include actual damage/or destruction to property to form the offense.[2]
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    "Malicious Mischief" or "Criminal Mischief" include wrongful activity where actions can cause:[2]
    • Intimidation, loss of personal peace and security, lowered property values;
    • Losing the use and enjoyment of your property, loss of property security,
    • Loss of customers -- businesses closing, losses of jobs, etc.


  • Fortunately, taking moderate security measures might reduce the likelihood, especially, of repeated vandalism, plus public awareness and police involvement.
  • Damages from vandalism can range widely -- moderate to severe, and may be too costly to repair/or restore or sell or to use'.


  • Start young to check with other parents (to check children's stories) to avoid "contributing to Juvenile Delinquency" which may be caused -- or at least, not stopped by parents who "contribute" to crime by allowing minors to be:
    • "Unsupervised", neglected, unguided -- doing whatever children decide, footloose, seemingly "wild".
    • "Unchallenged", lying about where and what they do/or did; bored, not engaged in known, supervised activities;

      Q: What did you do today? -- A: "Oh, nothing-really; we were just messing around."
    • "Looting" -- keeping bicycle, skates, toys, bling (gold or silver), tools or electronics, -- receiving stolen goods: "Someone gave it to me."; "I bought it, real cheap, from a friend." or "I found it."

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