Effectively Reducing Vandalism Through HOA Resolutions
Regarding the recent vandalism in San Tan Heights Park by a vehicle tearing up newly planted grass, I have to take great issue with how our HOA is handling it.
It was brought to our attention from a long time resident, volunteer and Block Watch member that a resolution the Board adopted back in 2009 was not being implemented. And it was something we as a Bock Watch pushed for after a dumpster of Christmas trees was set aflame; the $1000 reward system. This is where up to $1000 is awarded to someone after giving information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone causing damage to HOA common property.
This HOA Board has become lackadaisical on crime to common area property and too heavily reliant on the property management team to take care of it. The process has become systematic, expected, and highly ineffective in reducing crime and vandalism in San Tan Heights.
Here’s the process. Vandalism happens, it is reported to the HOA office, pictures are taken, a report is made to the PCSO.
REPORTING TO PCSO
Police reports are the right thing to do, but they only go so far. They basically take the report and leave. Does it increase patrols? Maybe. But it’s a crapshoot if lightening will strike twice in the same place with John Law watching.
MY OWN INVESTIGATION
I was curious so I followed the tracks. You can tell the direction of travel by which way the grass is laying. I found that the vehicle entered the same location it left. The grass coming off the tires upon exiting went to a specific driveway to the parking lot (there are two).
Surmising the person was looking for the quickest way home, there are basically three choices for streets to go home to from that exit.
The vehicle that did this has a wheelbase of about 50 inches. The tire tread is 8 inches wide. And just for a point of reference, my Corolla has a 51-inch wheelbase with tire tread width of 6.5 inches.
I did all this in about twenty minutes. Twenty unpaid volunteer minutes.
It takes more than to just paint over graffiti as quickly as possible (something we also pushed for). It takes more than to take pictures and file police reports. It’s not a deterrent, it’s a reaction.
After reflecting over the last few years it’s as if the reward system San Tan Heights Community Watch pushed for just stopped being used.
And the reward system worked very well in the case of the Christmas Tree Dumpster Fire. Within hours of posting the reward on the dumpster calls were being made to the office, an arrest and conviction went down and restitution to the HOA was made to replace asphalt and pay for the damaged dumpster.
We’ve become too complacent by simply taking pictures and filing police reports. As I said, that is a reaction, not a deterrent. If there are no appreciable repercussions to vandalism in San Tan Heights we are destined to become a silent victim time and time again.
COST OF VANDALISM
As we near the end of 2012, I will request from the office a breakdown of costs associated with vandalism repairs for this year. Including the quote to fix this latest, which was $850.
We as a community need to step up our efforts to go after those who choose to vandalize our community by using tools already set in place.
- Use the reward system for up to $1000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of anyone causing damage to HOA common property.
- Use the email blast system not only as a source to find lost puppies and community updates, but also as a tool that can ultimately save this community a lot of money in repairs. If the word is out that we are looking for a vandal and there is a reward, the reward will get people talking.
- That said, we should use discretion on the use of the email blast system.
- The damage to the park, yes. Random small graffiti on an SRP box, no. Graffiti that spans large areas or spouts hate or threats, yes.
- Use the quarterly bad news dues collection envelope as a means to let the residents know that there is a Block Watch in San Tan Heights, among other things. After the Trayvon Martin case in Florida, this Board ceased to recognize San Tan Heights Community Watch. Our brochures were no longer allowed in the office so new residents are not aware of our group or the information we put out. To be forewarned is to be forearmed and this Board is not allowing that to happen.
We’ve done what was demanded by the Board by putting disclaimers on our media disassociating San Tan Heights Community Watch from the San Tan Heights Homeowners Association thereby relieving our homeowners association of any responsibility.
It’s time for the Board to step up to community and safety issues and start advertising the fact that you do damage to HOA property you will be prosecuted and that active Block Watches can reduce crime by 60%.
Are there signs posted reflecting the reward? Yes. Is anyone aware of them? Few. That’s why we need to put it out in an email blast and reach as many as possible.
If you agree with the ACTION NEEDED and want to put your name to it, email your Block Watch at STHCW@LIVE.COM and we’ll get this moving forward. In the Subject part of the email please use ACTION NEEDED.