The original vandals were 5th century Germanic tribes who rampaged through Europe looting churches, eating peasants and daubing offensive graffiti on bus shelters.
Today, most vandals are adolescent youths, engaged in low-level damage to public and private property which many sociologists see as an expression of the despair and disaffection often felt by public school boys, residents of Sunningdale and similarly disadvantaged groups.
Very few pensioners are actively involved in vandalism, though it can be of therapeutic benefit for those confined to care homes, where sabotaging walking frames, crushing the fingers of visiting pianists who play Roll out the Barrel and smashing TVs constantly tuned to the shopping channel can all have a positive and empowering effect.
The oldest person convicted of vandalism in the UK is 94-year-old Violet Agra of Little Humping in Shropshire, who poured three tons of quick-setting concrete into her local surgery when they refused to treat her 98-year-old husband for his erectile dysfunction. Mrs Agra was sentenced to 120 hours of community service and is now Vandal in Residence at an open prison near Wisbech.