Problematic Behavior or Activity
Neighbors complained about squatters occupying an abandoned home. We received multiple (11 in total) reports of squatting and other illegal activities at the property.
Impact on the Community
Piles of garbage and the associated issues, increased calls to police, increased crime associated with the people occupying the home.
The Community Response Unit began an investigation with the aim of identifying who owned the property and resolving the growing community concerns. Upon investigating, officers in CRU discovered the property had undergone the foreclosure process and was owned by the bank. CRU spoke with various patrol officers who had responded to calls at the residence. Officers reported that the female who confirmed that she lived at the location told them she had a rental agreement and, when told the bank now owned the property, she claimed she had been the victim of a fraud and had in fact paid rent. CRU was able to establish that the rental agreement was inauthentic and CRU subsequently obtained a search warrant for the woman herself and documents related to her intent to commit criminal trespass as well as evidence of controlled substances (based on observations at the scene). Piles of garbage, controlled substances, and the accompanying filth were discovered in the home. Once the people were removed/arrested, the home was sold to a new owner and calls to the location have ceased.
We found that working with the bank to declare their ownership in writing and then handling the case with a search warrant circumvented the likely potential of a years-long foreclosure process, thus ensuring a greatly expedited proper resolution to the case. This immediately benefited neighboring property owners. Calls for service have ceased to the location, the home was sold to a new owner, and neighboring property owners are relieved.
Critical Success Factors
Cooperative effort between the police and the neighbors, mostly. The bank was somewhat difficult to work with because of the heavy amount of process within the bank organization, even following the conclusion of the foreclosure process.
Lock in the bank on ownership and have them submit a letter/email indicating they have had no relationship with the subjects you are investigating.