Partiers Crash Empty Natomas Home

UPDATE 6/15/2011 from SacPD Sgt. Norm Leong: “Our POP officers have been monitoring the location and it is all secure. The POP officers will be gone in another week due to budget cuts. “

Fast action by attentive neighbors succeeded in shutting down a party at a foreclosed Natomas home shortly after it started.

Just before midnight on June 1, a group of young people reportedly broke into a recently vacated house on the 100 block of Lyman Circle.

“Lyman Circle has always been very quiet, but in the case of last night the neighbors called the cops rather quickly,” neighbor Kevin Long said. “Beat me to it, in fact.”

Long said Sacramento police officers responded to the scene, ordered the trespassers to leave, confiscated and emptied several liquor bottles. The Sacramento Police Department confirms officers identified some people at the party and asked them to leave the premises.

After the police had gone, Long said, more young people drove by the vacant home looking to party. Some went so far as to let themselves into the backyard.

“There has been some suspicious activity at (the house) and the vacant house across the street, but this was the first time a bunch of partiers took over,” he said.

The house on Lyman Circle had been vacant less than two weeks before the party started the other night. The house went into foreclosure after being occupied for eight years; bank notices once posted on the door are now conspicuously absent.

Law enforcement officials said incidents like the party and squatting are on the rise, especially in Natomas where hundreds of single-family homes stand vacant and generally unchecked.

“We see this about every one to two months in North Natomas in particular,” said Matt Carroll, of Paladin Private Security. “Being that Natomas Park is the largest single-family home community we serve, the lion’s share of our involvement with these events are in fact in Natomas Park.”

About a mile away, also in Natomas Park, a squatters recently moved into a home on Maybrook Drive which had been vacant nearly a year. Neighbors suspicious of the new residents’ claims they were renting the property, alerted Paladin and filed a report with Sacramento police. The squatters were unable to provide a copy of their lease and were removed from the house – along with the belongings – within 72 hours of moving in.

Carroll said the biggest challenge law enforcement faces with incidents such as the party and squatter is there has to be a victim for there to be a crime.

“In all too many cases, the victim is a bank, a bank that cannot be reached in the middle of the night – or even on a weekday during business hours in most cases,” he said.

Sacramento County’s backlog of title filings compounds the problem, making it difficult to track down a property’s owner. In California, law enforcement must prove someone entered a structure – forcibly or not – with intent to committ theft or any other felony.

“Entering a foreclosed house for the purpose of drinking would not rise to anything other than a low grade misdemeanor in this state,” police Capt. Jim Maccoun said.

Carroll said neighbors need to be actively on the lookout for this behavior and quick to report it when suspected. As a proactive measure, he said, neighbors should develop a rapport and obtain contact numbers for vacant property brokers, agents and bank representatives they see visiting the property.

As for the house on Lyman Circle, Long said, “I hope the bank changes the locks and buttons the place down tight, including the backyard gate latch.”

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