Violent crimes are more likely to become salacious front-page headlines, but property crimes are just as common and harmful to the victims who must recoup those losses. It’s a stressful experience––not to mention a logistical headache—to bounce back in the aftermath of any felonious act. Still, vandalism can feel especially traumatic since it violates the place you call home. From broken windows and graffiti paint, to ruined or stolen items and even attempted arson, here’s what to do if someone vandalizes your home.

4 Immediate Action Steps to Take After a Home Vandalism Occurs

1. File a Report with Local Authorities

Vandalism is a crime that will usually be charges as a misdemeanor (or a felony if the defacement is extensive). As such, it’s crucial to file a report of the vandalism with the non-emergency number of your local police department. There are two main reasons for doing this. First, it establishes an official legal basis for you to be compensated for recovering losses and repairing damages. Second, it promotes a safer community since arresting the vandal can deter other potential offenders.

2. Document the Damage Extensively

Once you feel safe, survey all the damage around your home’s perimeter. Take videos or photographs of any broken objects and exterior defacement. Create an inventory of stolen valuables and calculations of how much those items are worth. You’ll need to share this information with law enforcement and insurance agencies. Ultimately, the more meticulous your documentation is, the more streamlined the investigation and claims process will be, which increases your likelihood of financial compensation.

3. Let Your Insurance Company Know

Most homeowners’ insurance policies will cover the impacts of vandalism on your house itself, as well as other structures on the property (such as a fence, shed, patio, or guest home) and objects that were ruined or taken from the property. To access this coverage, file a claim with your insurance provider. Submit the written and visual documentation you’ve been collecting and compile estimates from local contractors on how much it’ll cost to fix the damage, so your insurer can reimburse those repairs.

4. Hire a Service to Clean Up the Mess

Once you’ve filed the reports and submitted the necessary evidence, it’s time for the restoration work to begin. This can be quite stressful and overwhelming if you’re unsure where to start, so hire a remediation service to handle all of the recovery logistics for you. Whether this includes structural repairs, graffiti removal, or debris cleanup, a team of certified professionals can restore your home to its pre-vandalism state. In the aftermath of a criminal act, it’s beneficial to enlist as much practical relief and assistance as you can get.

Home Vandalism Is Painful—But Your Next Steps Don’t Have to Be

Of course, no one wants to experience home vandalism. The aftermath is difficult to navigate, the financial implications are undeniably stressful, and the mental repercussions can take a long time to heal. But with these action steps in your arsenal, at least there won’t be any confusion about where to turn for help. So even though you can’t foresee when a property crime like this might occur, you can formulate a plan to recover your losses, clean up the mess, eliminate the residue—and ultimately, return to normal life as soon as possible. 

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