July 02, 2012

The house around the corner has been empty for over a year and a half, thanks to this foreclosure mess.  It’s owned by a bank in Mumbai who has let it fall further into disrepair with little regard for those of us living with this eyesore.  The place looks like it was once occupied by the Addam’s Family, and as of late, it turns out it was.  A couple of weeks ago, while on my morning run, I spotted a pillow, blanket, and backpack at the house of horrors.  Then a mysterious van with blacked-out windows started appearing nightly.  Squatters in our neighborhood, no way!

My call to our illustrious homeowners’ association fell on deaf ears (so glad I pay my dues).  Needless to say, my next call was to the police dispatcher, who said she’d send a unit out to investigate.  That’s more like it… or so I thought.  When I got into work I received a call from Officer John telling me that there was nothing he could do and that I should call back if I see the owner of the van.  “Whoa there fella,” I said, conjuring my inner Wonder Woman and not backing down.  “‘Nothing you can do?’”  What happened to ‘protect and to serve?,’ I thought.  ‘Sorry, Lady, we’re on furlough, stage your own stakeout…’  But I said to him, “Tell me what we’re dealing with.  Is this guy dangerous?”

Long story short, the van was registered to a drug dealer that they’ve been trying to arrest, but, because the house is in foreclosure, the police refused to go in and get him.  I guess I made a big enough stink because within minutes I received calls from various neighbors reporting that there were four police cars on our block arresting our squatters, Crackie and his gal pal.

What, you may be asking Bitty, is your point?  It is this: We’ve all seen stories on the news about this sort of thing, but when it’s on your block it becomes all too real.  Be diligent.  If you spot unfamiliar vehicles, people, or bedrolls in your neighborhood, take action.  The banks and police may be overwhelmed, but they also don’t seem to care, unless you’re a pain in the butt (and that is something Aging Gal and I can be).  Get your neighbors involved.  It’s in everyone’s best interest to maintain pride, safety, and property values, as best we can.  The heck with “Occupy Wall Street,” I’m occupying my street.

Linda Sussman-Swiller is a licensed clinical social worker. You may contact her through her website at www.therapyandlifecoach.com.

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