The ripple effect: foreclosure related crime

September 8, 2008

The St. Louis Post Dispatch recently published an article about copper theft in Belleville, IL.  In the past two weeks, four vacant homes have had copper utility pipes stolen and vandals have destroyed the plumbing and graffitied the properties.

This article happened to come out the same day Schron Jackson of the St. Louis Police Department e-mailed me with information about foreclosure related crime.

In St. Louis, copper theft is among many problems plaguing neighborhoods with vacant homes. Properties are also burglarized for scrap metal and bricks. “The damage is horrific. Active water lines are cut and flood the homes. Sides of buildings are bumped and the bricks are stolen, causing structural dangers,” says Jackson. These “structural dangers” lead to condemned houses and a drop in property value for other homes in the neighborhood.

“Foreclosure related vandalism has become a real problem in the last year and a half,” she tells. “It’s hard to find a responsible party because the title of the home is passed off to an institution that won’t take action until the house is legally theirs.”  That window of time can leave a property sitting vacant for up to four months.

Anyone living in a neighborhood with vacant homes is urged to call their police department and request extra patrols of the property.

Learn more about the ripple effect in St. Louis:


One Response to The ripple effect: foreclosure related crime

  1. oracle66 says:

    This what is refered to as asset stripping. As the foreclosures occur anything of value is removed from the property. This is somethimes done by the owners or vandals. As the number of vacant homes increase, it will be impossible to protect residential properties from this type of activity, ultimately bringing down property values further. This will likely be followed by re-occupation of properties by squatters. One solution is to let the foreclosed owners remain in the properties as stewards.

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