When vandals strike

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I've been lucky! Over the years, my neighbours have told me about incidents of vandalism in my area. Eight years living in Cornwall and I had nothing major to report. As with most folk, I have hoped that I would continue to live in a safe, caring environment. And, as with most folk, I was pleased to learn that the Cornwall Community Police Services have installed a new closed-circuit television camera system amongst the Downtown and Le Village areas of the city.

Sadly, vandalism can take place anywhere. In recent weeks, it has raised its ugly, anonymous head in my neighbourhood. A small group of loud, intoxicated, rough teenage boys have been heard arguing late in the evening and sometimes in the early morning hours. On at least one occasion the police department had been called immediately, but the boys had already dispersed without being caught.

Vandalism is not new. In fact, the term came into effect many hundreds of year ago when an ancient tribe called Vandals from Northern Europe invaded Rome in 455 C. E. Their senseless destruction was so great that the term 'vandal' became associated with deliberate acts of abuse and misuse of property.

From a psychological point of view there are diverse causes for the behaviour: defence mechanisms to express hidden feelings or displacement of anger from one situation to another. Vandalism can be seen as a game, a perverse prank or a way to demonstrate courage to peers. The destruction or defacement of property allows the individual to vent without personal confrontation. ( see http://pods.dasnr.okstate.edu/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-3310/AGEC-9448web.pdf)

Having addressed how vandalism relates to the perpetrator, what impact does it have on its victims? When I looked out my window at three in the morning and saw one of my fifty pound flower pots, now empty, hurled onto the middle of the road, I felt utterly furious. But when I realized that one of my mature burning-bush shrubs had also been completely severed, I felt tearful, fearful and helpless.

Although the police officer who took my call was kind and empathetic, reporting such a crime after the fact is problematic to pursue. So, what are some measures to prevent these occurrences? While we can install security devices inside our homes, it is more challenging to find ways to safe guard the surrounding grounds. As I see it though, we must not become victims! The most effective solution is community vigilance and timely reporting.

Organizations: Cornwall Community Police Services

Geographic location: Cornwall, Northern Europe, Rome

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