(NaturalNews) Nearly a million and a half American homes are currently in foreclosure, which means many residences in various neighborhoods are now sitting empty and abandoned. And according to a recent report by The New York Times (NYT), criminals of all stripes, from prostitutes and drug addicts to gang members and thieves, are taking over these properties and "squatting" them indefinitely.
Unable to make their mortgage payments due to job losses and other economic factors, many families, particularly in areas where housing prices spiraled most out of control, have been forced out of their homes in recent years. And taking their place are the dregs of society, who really have nothing to lose by invading formerly-occupied properties and doing whatever they please in them.
"They're becoming a magnet for criminal activity," said Deputy Inspector Miltiadis Marmara, the commanding police officer of the 133rd Precinct in South Jamaica, Queens, New York, to the NYT concerning the excess of foreclosed properties. "[The criminals] hang out in these abandoned homes that may be foreclosed, or the owners walked away. Every day we respond to something to that effect."
Criminals looking for places to sell drugs, throw parties, steal copper piping and other valuables, and even host residential "strip clubs" are finding refuge, if you will, in these abandoned properties. And although police continue to arrest these squatters, others often just take their place shortly thereafter.
New York is not the worst state as far as foreclosures go, either. In Michigan, one of every 322 houses is a foreclosure; while in California, it is one of every 259 housing units. And in Nevada, the foreclosure rate is a whopping one of every 118 housing units (http://www.realtytrac.com/trendcenter/trend....).
In Detroit, Mich., authorities have recently begun to crack down on squatters that have taken over many abandoned housing units in the largely blighted city. Home values are already dismally low there, but having criminals occupying foreclosed homes only makes things worse (http://www.dailytribune.com/articles/2011/09...).
As the US economy continues to unravel, the squatting by criminals will likely just get even worse. Sacramento, Cal., Miami, Fla., Trenton, NJ., Cleveland, Oh., Nassau County, NY, and many other cities and counties across the US have already had to lay off portions of their police forces due to budgetary shortfalls, and many others are considering having to do the same thing, which means crime will only increase.