New Nevada law helping crackdown on squatters

Even Realtors association presidents can’t escape home squatting in Las Vegas.

Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors President Scott Beaudry was preparing for a quiet Fourth of July weekend when he got a call from a management office about a squatter in the east valley fourplex he manages.

The units had been boarded up for months and were under contract for a short sale.

Beaudry drove to the fourplex on July 1 and waited. A woman emerged from one of the units and he asked what she was doing inside. She had a lease, she said.

Beaudry learned that her unit and the three others were all occupied. She had “leased” them to the other squatters.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Beaudry said. “She was not only a squatter but an entrepreneurial squatter.” Squatter related calls in Las Vegas, 2013-2016 (Gabriel Utasi/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Beaudry told her he managed the units and there were no leases since the property was being sold. He said would go to the Metropolitan Police Department to file a squatting case under a new law.

A police officer stopped by later that day to investigate and questioned her lease.

During the Fourth of July weekend, the squatters left.

That kind of quick resolution is just what proponents of Nevada Assembly Bill 386, the anti-squatting sought.

The law, passed by the Legislature in May 2015, took effect in October, It creates new crimes such as housebreaking and unlawful occupancy for which squatters can be arrested. Repeat offenders can face felony charges and four years of jail time.

NO PANACEA

Despite the law, squatting persists valley wide. And many real estate agents, banks and property owners don’t know about the new law and haven’t asked police to help with ridding squatters.

But Beaudry’s experience with his fourplex may signal progress. Squatters may be getting the message – keep occupying homes and you’ll go to jail.

“I guess me going over there and telling them I would be handling this appropriately scared them, and they all moved out,” said Beaudry who credits the new law. “Before, you had to get a judicial eviction and if the squatters knew what they were doing, they could live in the properties for weeks to months because they would play the system. Now, you don’t have to do that.”

Since the new law’s enactment, Metro said it has taken 111 squatter reports. From Jan. 1 through mid-July, officers have made six arrests for housebreaking and 23 arrests for unlawful occupancy. There have been no arrests for unlawful re-entry for repeat offenders.

From October through March, Metro said it made more than 50 arrests related to squatter calls that involved drugs, warrants, stolen property and other charges. Most people use the empty homes to commit other crimes — for drug making, as chop shops where vehicles are stripped for parts, and as hubs for credit card and identification fraud, said Metro Police Lt. Nick Farese, who tracks the issue for the department and works with the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors.

Encouraged by the media police and real estate officials, residents have been reporting squatting.

Farese said Metro handled 2,284 squatting-related incidents in 2013. That rose to 3,110 in 2014 and to 4,458 calls in 2015.

So far this year, there were 2,672 calls, up 23.1 percent from 2,056 calls a year earlier.

Awareness of squatting is spreading, but reducing it will take time, Farese said.

“We have a law on the books that we never had before,” he said. “The challenge with everything is manpower. …

“We have limited resources, and violent crime is a priority first,” Farese said. “We want people to call and tell us there’s a squatter in the house, but it doesn’t mean a uniformed officer in a black and white will pull up and make an arrest.”

The Henderson Police Department said it has made eight arrests since the new law took effect. Investigations were underway on 60 cases recently.

Sgt. Kirk Moore, who handles squatting for the department, said the new law has given police more leverage to deal with squatting.

“The word has gotten around in the county so people know what to look for and criminals know that if they do this there’s a likelihood of prosecution,” Moore said. “That’s starting to weed out people.”

‘THE WORD IS OUT’

In North Las Vegas, officer Scott Vaughn works with three other officers and city code enforcement on a squatter task force. He said the department has made 10 squatting-related arrests over the last 18 months. Defendants are pleading guilty and getting probation, but face jail time if they continue, he said.

The city has about 100 active squatter cases among 6,000 homes in foreclosure, he said.

“It’s not gotten any better or worse, but has been steady,” Vaughn said. “But word is starting to get out there, and it will be a deterrent.”

Some Realtors and banks with foreclosed homes continue to pay squatters $3,500 to $5,000 to move out, since formal eviction might cost that much, Vaughn said.

“That became a very rampant problem and we are trying to wrap that up as more brokers, banks and realty companies find out what we’re doing,” Vaughn said. “We were able to save one brokerage $12,000 in one week from keeping them doing cash for keys.”

The public has helped fight squatting by telling police where to find other squatters, Vaughn said. He’s even getting tips from mail carriers and firefighters who spot generators powering homes or stealing power from neighbors.

AVOIDING CIVIL COURTS

Realtors are noticing a difference.

Michael Ring, broker/owner of Go Global Realty, said he’s had no squatting cases at his 280 properties this year. From 2011 to 2015, he’d averaged about 10 squatter cases a year, he said.

“Now they know they can’t hide in the shadows because people will report them,” said Ring, vice chairman of the GLVAR’s property management committee.

Bill Hastings, broker/owner of Hasting Brokerage, which manages foreclosed homes for banks, said the new law has teeth.

“You still have squatters going on, but you have a structure to handle them now,” Vaughn said. “It gets them out period because before cops would tell you it’s a civil matter and you just have to deal with it.”

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On February 3, 2018 at approximately 1:57 p.m., patrol officers were dispatched to a parking lot located in the 3900 block of East Owens Avenue to investigate a report that a man had been shot. Responding officers located an unresponsive adult male suffering from a gunshot wound. The victim was pronounced deceased at the scene. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Las Vegas Mob Museum adds new interactive exhibits
The Las Vegas Mob Museum previews it’s recent renovation and three new attractions including Organized Crime Today, Use of Force Training Experience and a Crime Lab.
Two Suspects Arrested in Deadly West Las Vegas Shooting, Kidnapping
Officers identified a second suspect in a deadly shooting and abduction Wednesday in the west valley, police said. Jessica Tolentino-Arciga, 26, was booked into the Clark County Detention Center on Wednesday in connection with the incident, according to police. Officers previously accused Joseph L. Fernandez Jr., 27, of breaking into his ex-girlfriend’s home just before 4 a.m. He is suspected of abducting his ex-girlfriend, Mandy Hernandez, in a gray BMW sedan and shooting her friend.
Video of attempted kidnapping suspect's car
Las Vegas police are attempting to identify a suspect in 2 attempted kidnappings. The suspect's vehicle was described a red four door sedan with silver trim around the windows. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Media Briefing: OIS #3 for 2018 -- Suicidal Subject Points Gun at Officer
Assistant Sheriff Charles Hank meets with members of the media to discuss additional details about the officer involved shooting that occurred on February 6, 2018. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Metro Homicide Lt. Dan McGrath speaks about a homicide and kidnapping
Las Vegas police are investigating a homicide and kidnapping in the 3300 block of Robin Nest Court, near Desert Inn Road and Hulalapai Way. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Homeless being targeted by unknown shooter
Capt. Robert Plummer of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department briefs the media on the recent shootings of four homeless men.
Douglas Haig talks to reporters
Douglas Haig, identified as a person of interest in documents related to the Las Vegas shooting, spoke to reporters Tuesday evening outside his home in Mesa, Arizona. (Madison Miller/Las Vegas Review-Journal Correspondent)
Suspected Aria counterfeiter hurt jumping off Harmon overpass
A man who allegedly tried to use a counterfeit bill at the Aria was hospitalized after he jumped off an overpass trying to escape police. About 2 a.m. Tuesday, security at the Aria flagged down police. When police tried to talk to him, the man fled and led police on a foot chase, according to Lt. David Gordon. The chase ended at the Harmon Avenue overpass above Interstate 15, when the man jumped off the side and landed in the rocky landscaping below. The man was taken to the hospital for evaluation.
Rancho Discount Mall shooting
Las Vegas police are investigating a deadly shooting Monday morning in central Las Vegas. A man was found dead after 3 a.m. outside the Rancho Discount Mall at 2901 W. Washington Ave. The man had been shot once. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Police have blocked off the parking lot in front of the store while detectives investigate. At 5 a.m., the man’s body was still on scene, laying on the walkway near a shopping cart and a pile of blankets.
Deadly shooting on Calimesa Street
Las Vegas police are investigating a fatal shooting Monday morning on the 4200 block of Calimesa Street. An adult man was found in front of a house with multiple gunshot wounds. He was taken to a hospital where he died, according to Metropolitan Police Lt. David Gordon. Homicide detectives also are investigating another deadly shooting that occurred a short time after the Calimesa Street shooting. A person was killed at 2901 W. Washington Ave.
Man shoots wife and 15-year-old stepdaughter in Las Vegas
Las Vegas teen accused of sexual deviancy in elementary school
A Las Vegas teen accused of raping 4 of his classmates had been disciplined for sexual deviancy in elementary school Maysen Melton was suspended from Bracken Elementary for allegedly sexually harassing classmates He was later disciplined for sexual deviancy at three different middle schools Melton now faces 23 felony counts for allegedly raping 4 of his classmates at Shadow Ridge High School Melton may face additional charges after another victim came forward, alleging Melton sexually abused her in October In one alleged incident, Melton pushed a girl to the floor before raping her He allegedly responded by saying, "No means yes"' and "I know you’ll like it in the end." District Judge Jennifer Togliatti pointed to an "astronomical probability of conviction" and raised Melton's bail from $200,000 to $500,000
Deadly shooting in south Las Vegas
Las Vegas police are investigating a Friday shooting that left a woman in the south valley dead. Police believe her husband shot and killed her at a house on Giles Street. The shooter as of 1:30 a.m. remained on the loose and was considered armed and dangerous. A police helicopter circled the sky looking for the suspect. Neighbors could be seen peeking through window curtains as police secured the neighborhood and warned people to stay inside.
Judge Doug Herndon confronts Bryan Clay in Las Vegas
Bryan Clay was sentenced to life in prison without parole in December for the rape and murder of a mother and her 10-year-old daughter. On Thursday, he was in court again to be sentenced for other charges, including robbery, kidnapping and sexual assault of a minor under 14 . Prosecutors told Judge Doug Herndon Thursday that Clay can be heard on his jail phone conversations saying he “tricked jurors, that he’ll be back soon, that he’ll in fact get his appeal more quickly.” Judge Doug Herndon told him the case has haunted him since “opening statements.” Briana Erickson/ Las Vegas Review-Journal
Las Vegas arrest warrant details Floyd Mayweather Sr. assault accusation
Las Vegas police said Floyd Mayweather Sr. dragged a woman by the leg from the backseat of his car and punched her after a boxing match on the Strip, according to court documents obtained Thursday. The father of boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. battered her hours after the Sept. 16 fight at T-Mobile Arena between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin, the elder Mayweather’s arrest warrant said. The woman and her husband had attended the fight with Mayweather Sr. and his girlfriend, the Metropolitan Police Department wrote in his arrest warrant. Police said Mayweather Sr. pulled her from the car and battered her. He then drove off, leaving the woman and her husband in a parking lot. A warrant for his arrest was issued Jan. 16. Mayweather Sr. was in Clark County Detention Center Wednesday, but has since posted bond.
Las Vegas teen accused of raping classmates appears in court
A Las Vegas teen accused of raping 4 of his Shadow Ridge classmates appeared in court Thursday Maysen Melton faces 23 felony counts, including charges of sexual assault District Judge Jennifer Togliatti pointed to an "astronomical probability of conviction" and raised Melton's bail Judge Togliatti also said she worried that someone walking by Melton's house could be at risk Melton's bail was raised from $200,000 to $500,000
Las Vegas police investigate kidnapping, carjacking and robbery at Best Buy
Shortly before 6 a.m., a man was approached by two men in the parking lot of a Best Buy at 6950 Arroyo Crossing, near the 215 Beltway and South Rainbow Boulevard. Police said at least one of the two suspects was armed with a handgun. The suspects forced the man into his car and made him drive to an ATM, where he withdrew an unknown amount of money for the suspects, Metropolitan Police Department Lt. David Gordon said. The two men then instructed the victim to drive to a convenience store at 4030 W. Charleston Blvd., where they told him to get out of his vehicle. Police said the suspects fled north on Hinson Street in the man’s car.
Life
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Calvary Christian Learning Academy, “There was no fair warning.”
Samantha O’Brien, whose three-year-old daughter attended the Calvary Christian Learning Academy daycare, found out Monday night when her daughter’s teacher called about the school closing.
Companies bet their futures on cryptocurrency
Two Las Vegas entrepreneurs talk about finding their niche in blockchain enabled technologies and digital currency.
Solar panels reduce energy bill for CCSD
Wilbur and Theresa Faiss Middle School is one of 42 CCSD schools with solar panel installations, saving approximately $514,000 per year in energy costs.
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