Spray paint can

How UMB responds when campus property is damaged or defaced.

When damaged or defaced property at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) is reported, a number of departments take immediate action. Here’s how UMB handles graffiti and vandalism, and what you can do if you see it on campus.

Reporting Graffiti and Vandalism

Any destruction of property that occurs on a building owned, operated, or contracted by UMB should be reported to the UMB Police Department (UMBPD) by calling 410-706-6882. UMBPD will then begin an investigation.

The Investigation

When UMBPD officers receive a report of vandalism, they will open an official police report into the incident. A police officer will be assigned to the case and will go to the scene and photograph the graffiti or vandalism.

While at the scene, the officer will talk with witnesses to see if they have any information about the vandalism. The officer may ask about any suspicious persons or vehicles, if there is a known timeline for when the vandalism occurred, or if there are any additional private security cameras in the area. The officer can also answer questions and provide resources, if needed.

UMBPD police communication operators (PCOs, sometimes known as dispatchers) can collect card reader data to see who entered the building where the vandalism occurred. This can help officers to identify potential witnesses. Even if a witness didn’t see anything, they can help narrow a timeline if they didn’t notice the vandalism when they arrived on campus. These conversations are an important part of the investigation.

PCOs will also check security footage to see if they can find video of the suspects. If they do, police officers will review the footage, take screenshots of the suspect, and provide a written suspect description. A BOLO (“be on the look-out”) will be created and shown at roll call so police and security officers can keep an eye out for the suspect if they are seen on campus.

The UMBPD may increase police and security officer patrols in the area for increased safety of the UMB community. They will also contact Environmental Services (EVS) and Operations and Maintenance (O&M) to remove the graffiti.

The Cleanup

Once notified, O&M will determine how the graffiti was created (e.g. spray paint, paint markers, permanent markers) and on what type of surface. The team uses graffiti remover for solid nonporous surfaces. For painted surfaces, O&M will color-match the original paint and paint over the area. Unpainted masonry surfaces are ground or scraped. Graffiti can be difficult to remove without damaging the surface under the graffiti, so the O&M team has to be careful.

Most vandalism is done overnight and the most common materials used dry very quickly. By the time students and employees arrive at UMB in the morning, the graffiti is often set and dry. O&M works to remove the graffiti as quickly as possible before it bonds or softens the material under it, which makes removal even more difficult.

Vandalism or property damage that requires repair/replacement from an outside contractor and costs more than $1,000 would require an insurance claim. Multiple quotes would have to be obtained before repairs could begin.

Offensive graffiti or vandalism is removed as soon as a police can document it and make a report. Removing this graffiti is an emergency priority for O&M.

Next Steps

If UMBPD finds the vandal, they will charge that person with destruction of property/vandalism. This is a misdemeanor crime under Maryland Criminal Law Section 6-301 with penalties based on the amount of damage caused.

Destruction of property at UMB is taken seriously, and multiple teams work together to ensure it is remediated as quickly as possible. Offensive or hateful graffiti will never be tolerated at UMB.

UMBPD’s goal is to maintain the safety and security of every student, faculty and staff member, and visitor to UMB. If you have any information about graffiti or vandalism on campus, call 410-706-6882.

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