Vandalism is a crime that can happen to anyone, and it can be devastating to your home. While the legal definition of vandalism is broad, it generally refers to an intentional act to destroy or alter your property. In the case of your yard, this could mean that someone committed acts like defacing or cutting your trees, digging up your gardens, and breaking your outdoor lights.
So, what can you do if someone vandalizes your yard?
While the laws differ in every state, there are some actions you should take right away when vandalism occurs. The following are some of the key steps every homeowner should complete when reporting and addressing vandalism.
- Report the crime
When you wake up to find your home has been vandalized, it can be tempting to react emotionally. You might have an inkling who did it and be tempted to use services like Go Look Up to track them down. However, it’s always essential to report the crime before you do anything. Call the police to alert them that your home has been vandalized. They will likely arrive on the scene right away to investigate.
You should also call your insurance company to report any damage that has been done to your home. A representative can go over your policy with you to see what damage your insurance covers. You might need to wait until the police report is complete to make a claim, but knowing that you are covered can offer some peace of mind. Eventually, you will be able to file a property damage claim.
- Collect information (but don’t touch the evidence)
While you wait for the police to arrive at your home, collect as much evidence as you can without altering anything. Take photos of all of the damage in your yard. Stand back to take a picture of the entire yard, then get as close as possible to take detail shots. Photograph broken tree limbs, shattered glass, holes in your gardens, and any spray paint that might be on your home. Note whether there was any damage done to your car as well. However, make sure that you don’t touch or change the appearance of anything.
You can also collect evidence by writing a list of everything that was vandalized. Be as detailed as possible, noting the specific types of damage that your trees, gardens, grass, and outdoor landscaping sustained. Be sure to write down any belongings and yard decor that appear to be missing. This information will be key to both your insurance company and the police.
- Schedule repairs
Once the police complete their initial investigation and collect evidence, they will likely tell you when you can start cleaning up your lawn. While there may be some cleanup that you can complete on your own, be sure to hire professionals when necessary. For example, look up “tree service near me” to find someone to inspect the health of your trees and take care of broken branches. You may need to hire professional painters to clean up and defacement on your home. Taking these steps as soon as possible can help you move forward following the vandalism.
Even if you never learn who vandalized your yard, be sure to tell your neighbors and keep an eye out for additional mischief. By staying diligent and reporting any issues to the police, you can make your neighborhood a safer place and prevent further damage to your home. You should also tell law enforcement if you do know who vandalized your yard. They can take appropriate action, so you can feel safe at home.