While vandalism is generally unacceptable in most parts of the world, it is celebrated in some communities. In other cases, it can lead to a life-changing breakthrough. For instance, Vin Diesel, a great actor known for his exploits in the “Fast and Furious” franchise, started his acting career because of vandalism. When he was seven, he broke into a New York theater, intending to vandalize it. He was caught, but rather than call the police, the facility’s artistic director offered him an acting role, and the rest is history. Keep reading to find out more random facts about vandalism.

1. Vandalism Comes from the Actions of the Vandals

Vandals were a Germanic people believed to be the first to inhabit modern-day Poland. They set up their kingdoms on the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa from 429 to 534 CE. More distinctively, they are infamous for sacking Rome in 455. History describes the Vandals as willfully destructive – “vandalism” comes from the actions of the Vandals.

2. Some Nuns Were Once Arrested for Vandalizing a US Nuclear Missile Launch Facility

In 2003, three Catholic nuns hit the headlines when they were arrested and charged with vandalizing a United States nuclear launch facility. Armed with hammers, the nuns damaged the property’s silo doors and drew crosses with their blood. They didn’t reach the central part of the nuclear facility, though, so not much harm was reported.

3. An American Teenager Was Caned for Vandalism in Singapore

In 1993, an American teenager called Michael Fay visited Singapore but soon found himself on the wrong side of the country’s Vandalism Act. He was arrested for vandalizing 18 cars and stealing road signs, all over 10 days.

In 1994, Fay pled guilty and was sentenced to caning. This move temporarily strained the diplomatic relationship between the United States and Singapore. The majority of US citizens were in agreement with the punishment, though.

4. A 500-Year-Old Treaty Oak in Texas Was Once Poisoned By a Vandal

The Treaty Oak is a live oak tree found in Austin, Texas. It is famous because it is more than 500 years old and is the last surviving member of the Council Oaks, a sacred meeting place for Native American tribes. In 1989, the oak tree was subject to vandalism when someone poisoned it with Velpar, a strong hardwood herbicide. This evoked massive community outrage; it was reported on the news, and people made “Get Well” cards for the tree.

5. Tom Green Once Vandalized a Piece of Art in The National Gallery of Canada As a Prank

Tom Green is a famous Canadian Comedian, actor, podcaster, filmmaker, and show host. In 1999, he pranked members of the National Gallery of Canada and onlookers by vandalizing a piece of art from the facility. It turns out he had placed the portrait of a “Tiger Zebra” there several days before the prank, so none of the facility’s property was destroyed.

6. Vandalism in Singapore Is Punishable By Caning

There is a Vandalism Act in Singapore that sees offenders punished by caning. Depending on the extent of the damage, the offender can also be fined an amount not exceeding S$2,000 or up to three years of imprisonment. Most usually get away with not less than three strokes, though.

7. Chewing Gum Is Illegal in Singapore Because of Vandalism

Chewing gum is illegal in Singapore; one can only legally obtain it through prescription. Apparently, this is a vandalism prevention measure. In the past, vandals used chewing gums to disrupt Mass Rapid Transport (MRT) services.

8. Bookshops Were Rarely Vandalized in the London Riots of 2011

brown wooden shelf with assorted books

In 2011, the death of Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old black man from North London, sparked outrage from the local community, causing widespread riots. Duggan was shot dead by a police officer, angering the public. Looting and vandalism were the order of the day – almost every business entity in the region was robbed during the riots. Interestingly, bookshops remained open but were hardly vandalized. One man said he chose to leave his store open because if the vandals stole the books, they could learn something.

9. Vandals in Russia Painted the Soviet Star With the Colors of a SpongeBob SquarePants’ Character

The Soviet star is a highly revered symbol of communism in Russia. Incidentally, someone once vandalized it by painting it to look like Patrick Star, a character from the kids show SpongeBob SquarePants. With many people considering vandalism a manifestation of contemporary art in the region, the vandalism of the Soviet star divided opinions.

10. The Devil’s Night Involved Serious Vandalism and Arson in Detroit, Michigan

Especially in the period between the 1960s and 1990s, the Devil’s Night was very popular in Detroit, Michigan. It involved widespread vandalism and arson – people routinely razed down houses believed to be drug-dealing locations. By 1989, over 5,000 buildings had been burned down.

11. William Wallace’s Monument Was Caged to Curb Vandalism

William Wallace is one of Scotland’s greatest national heroes, praised for his role in the First Scottish War of Independence. As such, a sandstone statue depicting Mel Gibson as William Wallace was erected in Braveheart in 1997. A year later, someone wielding a hammer vandalized its face, and even though it was repaired, there were more calls to pull it down; the statue was caged every night to prevent further vandalism.

12. Wikipedia Vandals Gave an Animal A Fake Nickname That Stuck

Wikipedia page screenshot

In 2008, two brothers vandalized Wikipedia and gave Coati a fake nickname. Interestingly, rather than remove the name, other sources picked it up, and it became real. The nickname was “Brazilian aardvark.”

13. The Great Wall of China Is Subject to Vandalism

The Great Wall of China has been subject to vandalism for the longest time. To deter vandals, the authorities have considered designating a portion of the wall as a “graffiti zone.”

14. A San Diego City Attorney Once Prosecuted a Man for Vandalizing a Public Sidewalk

In 2013, a prosecutor for San Diego prosecuted a man for vandalizing a public sidewalk using washable chalk. The offender had written anti-bank messages and faced up to 13 counts of vandalism and restitution worth thousands of dollars. The jury dismissed the case.

15. Stephen King Was Once Confused for a Vandal

Stephen King is an American bestseller known for his works on crime, science fiction, and horror subjects. While on a trip to Australia in 2007, Stephen King was confused for a vandal when he secretly started signing his books at a bookstore. He often did this wherever he went.

16. The Location of the World’s Oldest Tree Is Undisclosed to Prevent Vandalism

Dubbed the “Methuselah tree,” the world’s oldest tree is believed to be over 4,800 years old. However, its location remains undisclosed to the public to prevent possible vandalism. Many believe it can be found in the Inyo National Forest, a remote region between California’s Sierra Nevada rand and the Nevada border.

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Last Update: February 14, 2024