Best way to deal with vandalism

I built a second home in a small town recently. It is an additional house in a tight space. Not everyone is welcoming. Yesterday outside lighting fixtures were vandalized. What will be the best approach? Not sure how effective calling the cops will be.

I might install security cameras so you have more info if there’s another incident. It could be folks who are unwelcoming, but it could just as easily be kids whose “fun” isn’t so well thought out.

Agree that the police are unlikely to do anything but you could let them know - not to ask that they do anything - but so they are informed in the event that it is something they are already monitoring.

Sorry this happened to you. Whatever the intention, it’s bad to feel singled out and/or unwelcome.


This happened to my parents in a rural area. My mom is a gardener- the vandals ripped out a dozen small evergreens she had planted and broke lights.
My mom has clinical depression and she was really devastated. My dad did call the police.
They returned a week or so later to let them know that they didn’t think they were targeted because of other incidents in the area. A camera had taped a car of teens destroying property.
I’d report it and get a camera. If friendly with any neighbors see if they already have cameras and recorded the incident.
Sorry this happened.


OK, I called the cops. They found who did it and asked me if I want to press charges. Not sure. I have never pressed a charge. Never had a reason to consider. I am torn. Fixtures are damaged, can’t fix them, not cheap. If I press charges, do I also have to show up in court?

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This is awful. I’m so sorry this happened to you. I can empathize with the paralysis…is there a point in calling authorities, or is that just a rabbit hole you’ll regret? I wish it was straightforward to recommend you call the cops, but I don’t feel I can honestly say there wouldn’t be unintended negative consequences for stupid reasons.

ETA just read your latest comment. Transfer my sentiments from “call cops” to “press charges”


If you press charges and the case goes to trial (highly unlikely) you might need to appear in court to establish the value of the damaged property. You might want to use the threat of pressing charges as leverage to obtain payment for the damage. Is the person who caused the damage one of your neighbors or a random person?


Yes, next door neighbor. I pressed charges and feeling awful.


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Your neighbor did this? I’m so sorry this happened. I would definitely seek the advice of a lawyer on how to proceed moving forward.

Have they offered to pay for the damages?


Damage is less than $1,000. They probably can swing it.

@thumper1 Since the charge is filed, I am guessing they will have to pay. They admitted they did it and they are ordered to stay away from my yard and shouldn’t try to talk to me. They really didn’t like me building there. I think they should have bought the land themselves instead of insisting on my bending to their wishes. They were using part of my land when it was empty. I had to clear them out. I did tell them well in advance.

Don’t. And if you have a friend who’s a lawyer, consider sending them a letter threatening civil claims too.

Threats of bankruptcy often have a way of dissuading folks from doing bad things.

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Puni Ds as my litigator friends say…“punitive damages”. Much more than actual damages.


Were you able to speak with your neighbor - we live in a nonstop construction zone and it always makes us less likely to get annoyed when neighbors check in with us to let us know about the construction, tell us (and other neighbors) to call if any issue with the work or crews.

Vandalism is not the answer - were your lights shining into their house, had they addressed this with you? We had neighbors cut back trees and we had to tell them we could now see right into their house
/private areas. They had no clue and wondered why our deck lighten had seems so bright now - we put in lower watt bulbs and they bought shades for their bedroom :slight_smile:

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Not sure if I want to blow it up that much. I am just happy this will stop.

@coffeeat3 Yes, I checked in frequently during construction. This neighbor wasn’t there during construction much. They are almost as new as I am. When they bought the house, the land was still empty although they knew a house was going up and saw the floor plan and everything.


I would leave it right where it is. You’ve pressed charges, which was appropriate in my opinion. They will be held responsible. If anything happens going forward they will be looked at first. You have/had every right to put your land to use. You haven’t done anything wrong. Sometimes you just get a bad neighbor. Hopefully things will improve.


I put up a few stickers that say “property under video surveillance”. Maybe a small sign too. We don’t have any cameras up but might consider. Security lights are a must.


I would just have the kids come back with work gloves on and have them put it back together in exchange for not pressing charges.

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Why? The people who should feel awful are the ones who vandalized your lights. I’m trying to imagine how it is to be someone who doesn’t like the neighbors lights and decide the way to deal with it is to go break them; I just can’t figure out how to put myself in their shoes to see that as the best & right course of action. But evidently they did. What you’re doing is holding them accountable for their actions. Hopefully the court orders them to pay restitution.


They weren’t kids. They are easily in their 60s if I have to guess.

You did the right thing.

What’s next- an unleashed pit bull to growl at you every time you get of your car? Taking packages from your doorstep or stealing mail out of your mailbox (which is a federal offense btw)?

You’ve put them on notice- you will protect your property, you will involve law enforcement when appropriate, you will not be passive aggressive in playing loud music or throwing smelly trash on their property- and you expect the same from them.

Every case I’ve ever heard of that involved an escalation with a neighbor started with one party NOT calling law enforcement when it was clearly warranted… and then it goes from there. Now you’ve stopped it in its tracks.

Hugs. I’m sure this feels awful but you handled it beautifully.