Vandalism and Civil Commotion: What Business Owners Need to Know

When a protest goes wrong and civil commotion turns to vandalism, looting and riots, there’s obviously cause for concern. Business owners may begin wondering: What can we be doing now to prevent possible property damage?

Before an Incident Occurs

There are a variety of preventive measures that business owners can take to protect their business and staff. Keep in mind, vandals typically pick easy targets so unprotected buildings may be targeted first.

Tips for Protecting Your Building from Vandalism & Civil Commotion

1. If you have a video surveillance and/or alarm systems, test them to ensure they are working correctly and have proper placement. If you don’t have these systems, consider installing them.

2. When it comes to cash management and safes:

  • Hide the combination to the safe (and change it frequently)
  • Bolt the safe to the ground if possible
  • Limit employees who have access to the safe
  • Make deposits to the bank throughout the day if possible and consider using drop safes

3. Consider boarding up entrances (during hours of non-operation) and windows if the proximity of the riots or civil unrest is close or protests are near.

4. Independent security firms are another option to consider protecting your building or/contents. Most security firms have years of specialized training and experience that make them uniquely qualified to act as professional security advisors.

5. Organize receipts from any items that are stored or used at your business. These can help a claims adjuster better determine values.

6. Have sales history reports readily accessible. Data from multiple years is always helpful and paint a more accurate picture of sales.

Tips for Protecting Your Employees

1. Always use a buddy system when opening and closing the business. Lone employees may be viewed as more vulnerable targets.

2. Review safety protocols regularly with your employees.

3. Post all emergency numbers for police, fire, other first responders and the responsible parties in top management in several locations throughout the building.

4. Staff should NEVER get involved in violent acts. Employees should find a safe place and call police to handle the situation.

Read,  Protecting Employees from Robbery & Assault.

Additional considerations to protect your property and your people can be found on our Crime Prevention Checklist.

What to Do After Property Damage

Any time there’s physical damage to your building or theft of contents, it should always be reported to your insurance carrier as quickly as possible. Promptly filing a claim allows a claims adjuster to immediately begin reviewing your specific claim details and business insurance policy. And reporting a property damage claim doesn’t automatically increase your premium.

In addition to filing a property damage claim, do the following:

  • File a police report. Reporting damage and theft to the police doesn’t cost you money and can help verify claim information. 
  • Take a detailed inventory and pictures. Don’t forget about outdoor property like reader boards!
  • Secure any openings created by the loss to your building to prevent further damage.
  • If you are a tenant of the building that was damaged, notify your landlord.
  • Contact a contractor to provide a quote for the repairs to your building.
  • Collect pricing of the property that was either damaged or stolen. If you can, provide receipts for the damaged or stolen personal property.

To learn more about the small details that make a big difference for vandalism and civil commotion situations, contact a local Society Insurance agent near you.


As a mutual insurance company, we operate and exist for the benefit of our policyholders. For more than 100 years, Society has been helping businesses overcome the unexpected with comprehensive coverage packages and outstanding claims handling, underwriting and risk management.

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