Discouraging Illegal Dumping and Defacement.

Pop quiz: What can you do to discourage illegal dumping on your property?

a. Put up a sign that says, ‘Please Do Not Illegally Dump On My Property.’

b. Hire a private security force to patrol your perimeter.

c. Dig a moat around your property and erect a drawbridge.

d. Start with a few less invasive measures, such as installing motion-detecting lights and surveillance cameras.

I suggest trying answer d.

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A few easy and relatively inexpensive deterrents can help discourage people from illegally dumping on or otherwise defacing (e.g., unwanted graffiti) your personal or commercial property:

  1. Installing motion-detecting lights around your home and property can make any unwanted visitors visible without adding to the city’s light pollution. An additional benefit is that the light coming on may suggest to an illegal dumper entering your property that someone is already aware of his/her presence and is observing them.
  2. Installing one or more surveillance cameras can record the intruders in the act. If the perpetrator sees the cameras beforehand, he or she may be smart enough to avoid the risk of having their image and illegal act recorded.
  3. Maintaining clear sight lines will allow you to see better from within the safety of your home. Trimming bushes, so they’re no more than three feet tall and cutting tree limbs within seven feet of the ground can help improve the sight lines, so potential intruders feel more exposed to the risk of being viewed and caught.
  4. Clearly defining your property boundaries with plants, paving, low walls, or fences; cutting weeds; quickly removing any graffiti, and maintaining a clean environment can convey that this property is cared for and is to be respected.
  5. In instances of unwanted graffiti (especially repetitive efforts, like the example shown below), consider having a mural painted on the wall or fence in question. Graffiti artists tend to respect others’ work and may look elsewhere for a ‘clean canvas.’

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Obviously, there’s no guarantee that with these suggested actions, your property will never by visited by an illegal dumper or defacer, but a few proactive steps might cause someone to think twice before doing so.

Absent some proactive steps on your part, the odds are increased that you might be picking up someone else’s trash on your property or repainting a wall. This does not excuse the party who is acting illegally and irresponsibly, but you do have a choice as to whether you want to proactively try to head off a problem before it occurs or reactively clean up after the problem has occurred.

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Keeping Oakland Beautiful is everybody’s business.

We encourage you to share your thoughts in the reply section. We welcome the dialogue and learning of others’ perspectives.

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