Wild Parties Trash San Diego Foreclosures

Written by: Steve Cook   Fri, December 4, 2009 Beyond Today’s News, Foreclosure Situation

In San Diego, one person’s pain is another’s…place to party.

 San Diego neighborhoods are breaking out in late night, illicit raves in abandoned, foreclosed homes that leave properties trashed, neighbors furious and police overwhelmed.  In fact, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department is recruiting extra help in an effort to control the parties that cause thousands of dollars worth of damage.

At least five “party crews” have been operating in the North County region, with such names as “Takin Over Krew” and “Til You Drop.”  They locate large, out-of-the-way houses that are vacant and provide plenty of space for parking.

 One party last summer even featured strobe lights and a disc jockey.

 ”Whenever the door opened, it was like someone opened the door of a huge club, it was so loud,” said a neighbor. He and his wife helped pick up hundreds of red plastic cups and liquor bottles littering the neighborhood the next morning, he said.

 The underground parties are usually advertised on social networking Web sites such as MySpace and Facebook, but the location is kept secret until about an hour before party time. People who want to go can call an information line or receive a text message with directions to the location. They’re charged $2 to $5 and when they’re done, they leave behind beer cans, tequila bottles, drug paraphernalia, graffiti and trashed rooms and yards.  It cost more than $8,000 to repair a million dollar home that was the site of a July Fourth party. Four young people were arrested.

“This is a new phenomenon for us,” said Fallbrook Sheriff’s Detective Jeff Lauhon. “It’s something we’ve never seen before.”

 In the Encinitas Ranch development, a neighborhood watch group has formed to monitor the parties and the sheriff’s office has put out a county-wide alert.  Crime prevention officers have sent a message to thousands of neighborhood watch groups across the county to call law enforcement if they see suspicious activity.

“Our resolve is we will do everything, working with the sheriff … that type of activity does not take place in Encinitas Ranch,” said Dick Stern, coordinator of the Encinitas Ranch watch group.  Stern’s group is watching a handful of homes, including a $1.2 million foreclosure and a $1 million home up for short sale and it will take the added step of monitoring the exterior and landscaping of the homes. If the bank does not do a good job, the homeowners association would step in and charge the bank.

 San Diego watch groups will have their hands full.  Foreclosures rose 9.3 percent last month in San Diego County, the first upturn since spring. On the other hand, foreclosures are selling faster.  Foreclosure sales totaled 1,203 last month, up from 1,101 in September and 5.2 percent more than a year earlier.

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