Preventing and Repairing Equipment Vandalism in Public Spaces

graffiti board

Preventing and Repairing Equipment Vandalism in Public Spaces


Any time sports equipment or site amenities are installed in an area that’s open to the general public, there is a risk of vandalism or theft. So what can be done to prevent such acts and get your equipment looking like new again if defacement does occurs?

Although proper lighting and security systems are popular and proven methods to deter vandalism, perhaps the easiest way is to simply match the right equipment for your play environment, skill level, and frequency of use. For outdoor basketball courts, aluminum or steel backboards are very durable for heavy play settings and will stand up well to weather elements and possible abuse. Glass boards, on the other hand, can be easily shattered by a rock or other sharp object. Polycarbonate backboards have recently become another great option for outdoor courts, and they’ve been touted as “bulletproof” by some manufacturers.

Over the years, equipment manufacturers have responded to vandalism concerns by offering creative solutions to prevent vandals from tampering with equipment. For example, an adapter plate can be attached to a basketball backboard which allows a stationary rim to be easily removed by personnel to prevent unauthorized use in between games. Outdoor volleyball, tetherball, or other game posts can be installed in ground sleeves so facilities can take them out during closed hours or off season (and always remember to cover sleeve holes with caps for safety if posts are removed). Portable soccer goals can utilize wheel kits to allow for easy transport off the field when not in use, and soccer net clip attachments allow personnel to easily remove the nets between games and practices. In addition, most adjustable basketball systems can accept a padlock on the actuator mechanism to prevent tampering or theft. Generally speaking, equipment with lots of moving parts or components that can easily be removed without tools should not be installed in vandal-prone locations unless absolutely necessary for operation.

If your facility does not have adequate personnel, transport vehicles, or storage space to remove equipment from play areas during the off season, you may want to consider permanent installation as an alternative. Game posts, soccer goals, batting cages, fencing, and outdoor seating can all usually be installed into permanent concrete footings to prevent removal.

So what can you do if your equipment has been defaced by vandalism such as graffiti? For painted surfaces such as backboards, try wiping graffiti with any common paint thinner such as mineral spirits, WD40, lacquer thinner, or acetone, or wiping with a light penetrating oil may also work. Graffiti removal products sold in stores and online can also be effective. If graffiti remains, try to remove it by rubbing with steel or bronze wool or light sandpaper. Be aware that this method should only be used as a last resort, as it could scratch the finish or cause the powdercoat paint to come off and possibly void the manufacturer’s warranty. Always consult with the equipment manufacturer for their recommendations for removing graffiti from surfaces.