Several theoretical and conceptual approaches have been developed over the years to explain vandalism. Cohen’s (1973) taxonomy of vandalistic behavior has been found quite useful. Five different types of behavior have been described in this taxonomy Acquisitive Vandalism- damage is done in order to acquire money or property. This includes the looting of parking meters, vending machines, public pay phones etc. Tactical Vandalism -the damage done is a conscious tactic used to advance some end other than acquiring money or property. Ideological vandalism is considered to be tactical, with the purpose of drawing attention, and gaining publicity. So also is the act of slogan writing, and property defacement. Vindictive Vandalism-the property is damaged as revenge, especially where one feels that he/she has been unfairly treated. Malicious Vandalism- the act is enjoyed for its own sake, and expresses malice, aggression and anger, which are found by the perpetrator to be amusing. Play Vandalism-the property destruction by itself is perceived as a minor part of the game and vandal’s acts involve the use of some skill and manifestation of curiosity.
The amount of acquisitive vandalism may be influenced by the degree of surveillance in the environment where vandalism takes place. Deteriorating environments may precipitate more malicious acts while better maintained areas may become targets for acquisitive vandalism. Tactical vandalism will take place where the ideological settings for it are apparent.
While a single theory would not have been sufficient to offer an adequate explanation for Cohen’s taxonomy, Baron and Fisher (1984) have developed an equity-control model which claims that vandalism provides meaning and coherence to the vandal’s world and conveys a message that “the system is rotten.” The vandal is saying “if I don’t get any respect from you, I won’t respect your rules.” This model assumes that the perpetrators of various forms of...