Having a crime happen to you or a loved one can be very upsetting and disruptive, and sometimes the effects may be felt for a long time after the crime occurs.
What is property damage?
Common forms of property damage can include damage to your home, car and personal possessions.
It can include vandalism and graffiti, which is marking or defacing objects. Graffiti can include painting, drawing and scratching, and it can be a crime if it is done without the owner’s permission.
If someone enters your property (such as your land, home or workplace) without your permission in order to steal or damage things, this is called burglary. If someone is on the property at the time of entry, it may be a more serious crime called aggravated burglary.
In some cases, property damage can happen as part of a larger pattern of criminal behaviours such as:
Charges related to property damage and graffiti
There is a range of offences related to property damage and graffiti. They include:
- destroying or damaging property
- destroying or damaging property intending to endanger life
- aggravated burglary
- marking publicly visible graffiti, or offensive graffiti, of private property without the owner’s consent
- possessing a graffiti implement with the intention or marking graffiti.
What can I do?
In Victoria, there are a range of services and agencies that assist victims of different crimes.
If you have experienced property damage, you can:
Report property damage to the police
If anyone is in immediate danger or a crime is currently occurring, please call police on Triple Zero (000).
If there is no danger, you can report to police by:
- calling the Police Assistance Line on 131 444
- calling or going to your local police station
- using Victoria Police’s online reporting tool (for items/damage up to $5,000)
- anonymously report crime to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
What will happen if property damage is reported to police?
When a crime such as a property damage is reported to police, they can:
- attend the scene if this is required (for non-urgent situations this may take some time)
- secure the location (if that is appropriate), or provide advice on how to do so to make sure it is safe
- collect evidence and investigate what happened
- try to find the person who did the damage.
Evidence that may be needed
If you discover that your property has been damaged, it is best to report it to police as soon as you can and avoid disturbing the scene until they can tell you what to do next. This will allow police to gather as much evidence as possible.
The police may ask for your cooperation to gather evidence. This can include photographs and other evidence from the location the crime happened. If police are not going to attend the scene, you can take photographs of the damage to document it.
If someone is charged
If an accused person is found by the police, they may be charged and the justice process will start.
This website explains the justice process in Victoria. You can learn about:
- police investigations
- how charges are laid
- what happens when a case goes to court
- what you need to do if you have to go to court.
Help to remove graffiti
Your local council may have a program to help remove graffiti. Community Crime Prevention Victoria provides useful information and links about:
- preventing graffiti
- assistance and information about removing graffiti.
The Victorian government does not provide financial assistance for damage to property or possessions.
You may be able to:
If you have an insurance policy covering your property and/or possessions, you may be able to make a claim for the cost of replacing or repairing them. You may need a copy of the crime report from the police to do this. Contact your insurance company for more information.
Seek compensation directly from the offender
If a person is charged with damaging your property, you may be able to apply for a court order to make the offender to pay you for what the damaged property is worth.
You can learn more about seeking compensation from an offender.
Learn more about protecting your property from damage
You can take steps to make your property more secure and protect your possessions. Find out more from:
Let police know if you are going away for a while
If your home is going to be empty for an extended period, you can register with the police. Find out more on the Victoria Police website.
Deal with a neighbourhood dispute
Sometimes a dispute with neighbours may lead to property damage. If you do not wish to deal with the situation by reporting to police, you may wish to consider dispute mediation. You can contact the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria for:
- information and advice on how to deal with a dispute
- dispute mediation.
Understanding the traumatic effects of crime
Having your property damaged can be an upsetting and worrying experience, particularly if it is an ongoing problem.
Everyone’s response is different, but it can be helpful to understand the common feelings and physical reactions people have and what to expect.
On this website, you can learn more about:
- common emotional and physical reactions to stressful events like crimes
- suggestions to help you with recovery
- how to best support a family member or friend.
Counselling and crisis support services
24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
Mental health care plan – see your General Practitioner
If you need assistance, you can see a General Practitioner and discuss your situation. You may be eligible for a mental health care plan that will assist with the cost of counselling.
Victoria Legal Aid
Victoria Legal Aid’s (VLA) Legal Help service provides free general legal information over the phone and by chat online.