A fever, so the doctors and medical experts tell us, is a symptom of a deeper issue; an illness which most often is a mild and fleeting thing. And then, there is the serious and life-threatening fever – in either case, a fever is a way of telling us that something is wrong, and we’d best pay attention.

Just such an indication in the body politic is the occurrence of vigilante groups – a kind of civic fever, an indication that civic adjudication – the administration of justice in the case of offenses against law and order to the satisfaction of those offended by crime – has become seriously out of whack. It is a purely human drive; if one has been harmed by the unlawful actions of another, one would prefer to be assured that justice has been served – and if not made whole again, at the very least satisfied that the offender has been properly chastised for their offense.

Bad things happen in a nation or a city when ordinary citizens become convinced (rightfully or not) that justice is not being done, as in the case of local bully and thug, Ken McElroy, a couple of decades ago. Eventually, citizens realize that the civic authorities are not living up to their end of the bargain, as did the residents of Skidmore in the McElroy case. If not actually indulging in crime themselves, police, district attorneys and courts are turning a blind eye to criminal offenses. Citizens are even more quietly offended when they note that criminals are being treated by the ruling class as a kind of protected pet. Eventually the end of patience is reached. Americans historically run out of civic patience sooner than most other nations and ordinary citizens tend to take administration of justice into their own hands. Not as an undisciplined mob, although that has happened as frequently in American history as anywhere else – but as a vigilante organization. As I wrote some years ago about the San Francisco vigilance committee; “The image of a ‘vigilante’ most usually implies a disorganized mob; lawless, mindlessly violent, easily steered but ultimately uncontrollable. The Vigilance Committee was something much, much worse than that. They were organized, they were in earnest, they would not compromise … and they would not back down.”

In the last couple of years, I have seen murmurings about a kind of pre-vigilante action – most of it along the lines of a kind of informal local neighborhood watch; neighbors banding together informally to secure their own areas. It’s not gone as far – yet – as banding together, taking oaths, fortifying a stronghold, electing leaders, and going after the most notorious miscreants, as the San Francisco Vigilance Committee did, back in the day, but the impulse appears to me, when I read various news sites, that the vigilante impulse is solidifying around a most unexpected offense against the laws of man. And that would be the current wave of squatters moving into vacant or temporarily unoccupied homes and defying all efforts by the legitimate owners to get them out. This is substantially different from deadbeat tenants overstaying their lease and milking the tenant-protection laws for all that they are worth. Landlords and property managers have long had to deal with this kind of tenant.

What is a new twist is squatters breaking into and setting up housekeeping in a temporarily-vacant home and defying the owner of the home, brandishing a fraudulent lease or a claim to have purchased the place – and the police shrug and tell the legal owner to take it through the court as a civil matter. This is happening to people who aren’t landlords, who perhaps have inherited a house from a deceased next of kin, gone away on vacation for a couple of weeks, a stint of active duty in the military, or to care for a sick relative. Such people likely don’t have a lot of money to pursue a long, painful journey through the courts to get back their property … property which may have been thoroughly trashed and scavenged to the bones by the time the squatters are thrown out.

Thinking a little more on this situation, I am not surprised at the level of smoldering anger that property-owners might feel about this. A house is a very personal thing; for most people, a residential property would be the single most expensive thing they own. Having a total stranger invade their property, their home, or the home that their parents lived in – and brazenly steal it – and with only a long, expensive court battle can they get their property returned. How galling this must be, how insulting! Then of course, there is this fool, telling his social media followers that the laws will let them just ‘occupy’ empty houses; which will almost certainly end badly for those other fools to take his word for it. People have already been killed in at least one case, and a handy-man entrepreneur is achieving a mild degree of fame by offering anti-squat services and advice to home owners who have had their properties targeted in this way. Having a home taken over in this way is a deeply personal insult to a property-owner; and this is rich soil for a new vigilante movement to grow in.

Comment as you wish and have insight into this matter.

30 thoughts on “Fever”

  1. I am not surprised at the level of smoldering anger that property-owners might feel about this.

    Me neither, but I’d like to bring up another aspect of this shinola sundae.

    A long time ago I worked with a guy who was rehabbing houses in the city of Detroit during the 70s. He had stories about squatters remarkably similar to what we’re enduring now. Eventually, he gave up and moved out of state. The houses became abandoned, along with many thousands of others. Detroit became famous for its ruins.

    But what I’d like to bring up is inflation. The houses of Detroit were left empty because when wages rose to a certain dollar number it made more sense to walk away and buy or build somewhere without the criminal-loving city government. This process took decades.

    Today we’ve already seen millions of people leave blue areas for red- something like 3.7 million since 2020- due to the blues love of crime and criminals. I doubt this will change, especially the people most likely to oppose it are already leaving.

    So what’s going to happen when the average wage is accelerating away from the declining value of the average house in these crime infested ****holes?

    My guess- whole states will become like Detroit, even more than they already are.

  2. The big nightmare is the vacation return that finds squatters in your home with a fake lease. How often does that happen? There’ve been news stories lately, but I’ve not seen numbers to tell how big the problem is.

    Tenants who turn into squatters I assume are a lot more common–but once again, where do I look for numbers?

    Squatters who take over apparently abandoned property aren’t so threatening–except perhaps to their neighbors.

  3. Let us say that such a class action suit was attempted. Looking at our court system, that is devoted more to Leftist politics than any conception of the rule of law with the consent of the governed; the most likely result is a summary ruling that none of the plaintiffs “have standing” to file. There is another possibility that if the intruders are “protected classes” that the court may rule that reclaiming the property for the owner is a violation of the superior civil rights held by protected classes.

    It is ironic that the place of origin for the most famous Vigilantes, the Committees of Vigilance, is Leftist paradise San Francisco.

    Subotai Bahadur

  4. You need to remember, all the way back to the Bow Street Runners that prceeded the Metropolitan Police in London, that the purpose of the police is to make sure that accused make it to trial in front of a judge. They’re not there to protect you or your property, they’re there to take people into custody for the court.
    Generally speaking, when you go down to the courthouse, the word “Justice” is usually on the outside of the building. That’s the last time it enters into the matter.
    When I was called for jury duty, at examination I told them of my feelings about these subjects, and that I consider ‘expert witnesses’ perfectly willing to fabricate testimony, especially government ones.
    They did not take up any more of my time.
    (BTW, the baliffs were all tremendously amused.)

  5. James the lesser … I am not a lawyer but I’ve heard some stories from a friend in California who worked on evicting squatters from a couple of houses his ex-wife owned, and this was ten years ago or more. A landlord has the advantage of having a contract and other documentation as well as likely a history of leasing to various tenants so they have an easier time convincing the court the tenants are in violation of the lease and can hire a private company to do the eviction even the cops won’t do it, plus it won’t be their own domicile that is impacted. If a squatter presents fake paperwork the legal owner has the problem of proving a negative, that they didn’t agree to lease or sell the property, as well as being hampered by lenient ‘adverse possession’ doctrines which were enacted mostly to aid localities in collecting real estate taxes from somebody even if that somebody wasn’t the owner of record.

  6. I have long suspected the Real Purpose of that anti-lynching legislation that was so triumphantly passed just a few years ago was to provide Federal means to go after modern vigilantes. The Media was telling us to think of Emmet Till; the bill’s real purpose was to go after modern vigilantes.

  7. James, I suspect that the national law-enforcement authorities don’t reeeeeally want to give out any “official” numbers on the occurrences of professional squatters moving into temporarily vacant residences – but I suspect there are a good many. Enough that the handy-man squatter-removal enterprise has a lot of fans and employers. Enough that local news has to take notice of the phenomena.
    Nate, you might be correct in that – which is why the current-day vigilantes are quietly patrolling their own neighborhoods, and not going on ‘search-and-destroy’ missions after miscreants.

  8. A takings clause challenge, if won, would instruct governments that they could evict you for a rent they could impose to house anyone for any reason. Stuff that idea.

  9. In countries where people employ live-in servants, one reason to have a maid or gardener is to make sure no one moves into your place when you’re away. There’s also house sitting, dog walking, etc.

    In the USA it seems that much depends on the state you live in.

    A person I know bought a small apartment in Florida as an investment. When this person visited the property shortly after closing on it there were people living there. He called the cops; they wouldn’t do anything. He got a lawyer, went through the system and got an order to vacate. All of this took a few months plus legal expenses, and he wasn’t even allowed to close the electric account that he had foolishly opened before visiting the property.

    The squatters were pros. Apparently a corrupt realtor had given them access to the apartment in exchange for a few hundred bucks (they referred to this payment as “rent”). They told the judge they thought it was OK to move into the apartment as they believed it to have been in foreclosure, they had paid rent, they were poor single mothers, etc. Happily, the judge didn’t buy it and told them to GTFO.

    On the positive side, once there was a court order to vacate the squatters moved out, coincidentally on the day before the County imposed a COVID-related moratorium on eviction enforcement. Otherwise it might have taken another year or two to get them out. No doubt they moved on to their next victim. They trashed the apartment but it needed renovation anyway. So, it could have been a lot worse, and this was in a relatively landlord-friendly state.

  10. Sgt. Mom, the reason I wondered about the numbers is because I reckon that the vigilance committees wouldn’t get a lot of volunteers unless the average citizen thought there was risk to him or his.
    I imagine most of us have a friend of a friend who’s a landlord, but otherwise the risks to landlords feel a bit distant.
    Threats to the homestead are another matter. I think the committees would get enough volunteers to be picky if that were felt to be a problem. Or if the squatters caused enough grief to the neighborhoods they attacked in.

  11. Deadbeat tenants who stay long, long after their lease expires or who aren’t paying their rent and have to be evicted have been a long-time occupational headache for landlords and property-management companies. Just one of the headaches of doing that kind of business, I expect.
    What’s coming up increasingly is what Jonathon mentioned – squatters moving into an empty property that is on the market. My daughter is in real estate now, and it’s an issue that real estate agents have to be aware of. It’s made easier for professional squatters to find empty properties through on-line listings, or AirB&B and take advantage. Ordinary folks are at a disadvantage when it is their home. Apparently, Atlanta is particularly plagued this year by squatters taking over residences. The Daily Mail reporter followed up on one serial professional squatter, and located a storage unit where they were keeping their valued possessions between squats.

  12. “Apparently, Atlanta is particularly plagued this year by squatters taking over residences. The Daily Mail reporter followed up on one serial professional squatter, and located a storage unit where they were keeping their valued possessions between squats”

    That would be the ***UK publication* called the Daily Mail, I assume? Doing the job American journalists won’t do.

  13. Perhaps the reason this issue raises so much heat is that it combines one outrage to law with another outrage, the open border.

  14. Yes, the UK Daily Mail – indeed, doing the reporting that our own national establishment presstitutes don’t do.
    I think that a lot of the outrage is because – in those instances where the invaded property is a home that the owners have left temporarily unoccupied to go on vacation, military duty or to care for a sick relative – it’s an invasion of a deeply personal, private space. Your property, your HOME has been invaded, exploited and trashed … and to add insult to the original injury, the police shrug, tell the owner to pursue it through the civil court … and walk back to their vehicle.
    Home invasion robbers smash their way in, rob the place, and leave. Squatters smash their way in … and stay, thumbing their nose at the owners and the law.

  15. What will happen eventually after the squatter removers can no longer use legal means to get rid of them will be what the collectivist/statist/authoritarians are hoping for. People will start hiring illicit squatter “disappearers” to remove the squatters without regard to legal process. As Rand pointed out, when the government doesn’t have enough criminals over whom to exercise control, they manufacture them.

    I’m guessing that we’ll soon be seeing these destructive parasites physically removed in the dark of night by very large and violent men, taken to a nice quiet place in the woods, beaten mercilessly, perhaps even with permanent damage, and left to await any help that (might) eventually be summoned for them. Or these removers will simply follow the “three esses”…there’s a lot of empty prairie, desert, or ocean, depending on where you are. Note that I am NOT advocating for these actions, only making a prediction.

    And this is what the c/s/a’s are hoping for, so that they can successfully implement some form of martial law in the face of the “breakdown of rule of law” that they themselves engendered.

  16. First, the fact that this is a strictly civil affair is complete and utter B.S. The first time a forged document is presented to anyone at all, that is a felony. each and every time a forged document is displayed is another, separate felony. Producing such a document with the intent to deprive someone of money or property is another, additional felony. Using or trying to use a forged document to deprive someone of their money or property, is again, a separate offense. Presenting a forged document at a legal proceeding or even to a police officer is usually an enhanced felony.

    There are a few cases where someone that originally legally occupied a property was able to use various dodges to delay eviction for ridiculous amounts of time, but that’s not what we’re talking about.

    All that’s required is for the police to move their arse and actually investigate and for prosecutors to do the same. As with so many things, no new laws needed, just enforce the ones on the books.

    We’ll se if things change in Florida, DeSantis may be starting the ’28 Presidential election season early.

  17. MCS…”First, the fact that this is a strictly civil affair is complete and utter B.S. The first time a forged document is presented to anyone at all, that is a felony. each and every time a forged document is displayed is another, separate felony.”

    That is true, but does the typical police department have either the authority or the expertise to evaluate documents and rule on them? What it the fake tenant has a genuine-looking lease with a forged signature, maybe even a notary’s stamp? A false document will involve a felony on the part of whoever created it, but you have to have probable cause to prosecute.

    What might be useful is to have special people in the district attorney’s office who can make a quick ruling on apparent fraud and then issue a warrant for arrest.

  18. Second, once someone has been found to be occupying a dwelling by fraud, they are presumptively guilty of breaking and entering of a habitation and criminal trespass. If they take so much as single potato chip, they have committed burglary.

    If the “media” possessed anyone with an IQ greater than room temperature in celsius, they would be asking police and prosecutors to explain why this is wrong.

  19. “does the typical police department have either the authority or the expertise to evaluate documents and rule on them?”

    It’s the law, their job is to enforce the law, why wouldn’t they? They damned well used to have all the document and forgery experts they needed or help from the state police for smaller departments just like anything else. These clowns are pulling down six figure pay, if they can’t figure it out, it’s time to get someone that can.

    Third, assuming a mortgage with title insurance in force, why isn’t this cloud on the title a claim against that insurance?

  20. A long time ago I read a book on the Lindbergh kidnapping. Described in it, a witness was caught committing perjury and arrested right from the witness stand.

    That’s the civilized country that used to exist. In the country that exists today, perjury on the witness stand is assumed and almost never prosecuted.

    I will presume I am stating something so obvious that it is now accepted to be true without further thought. That is, no one is surprised when people tell obviously stupid lies in court without consequence.

    Hence, why exactly would anyone be surprised that squatters tell obvious lies backed with obviously fake documents to cops and the courts? Why wouldn’t they? There’s no consequence for lying and the awesome benefit of free housing if they do lie.

    And the police. The Law- capital L- says they’re right to arrest people objecting to squatters living in their houses, much like how the Law said it was right to turn Jews over to the Nazi regime, back you-know-when.

    When squatters are able to simply break in to empty houses and live there, this isn’t some strange aberration that would be corrected if only the Tsar- I mean the government- knew.

    It’s a deliberate policy of the regime.

  21. In re: the DAILY MAIL:

    I scan it daily. No, not because they are such paragons of journalism [which doesn’t really exist anymore]. They lie and cover up for their Brit Nomenklatura like our media cover for the Left. However, they feel no obligation to cover up for the American Nomenklatura, and so they publish more of the truth about them. In fact they kind take pleasure in ratting out Americans.

    March 28, 2024 at 6:21 pm

    “All that’s required is for the police to move their arse and actually investigate and for prosecutors to do the same”.

    And that is one of the worst problems here in this country. The Leftists have won to the point where cops do not enforce the law because they will be punished for doing it, and Leftist prosecutors will not prosecute protected class criminals unless forced to. Which is a major reason that the Social Contract is gone. Any corrective process will be untidy.

    Subotai Bahadur

  22. MCS…my argument is that when a problem is starting to happen repetitively and at increasing levels, it’s often a good idea to focus some *dedicated* resources on it…have a couple of people in the prosecutor’s office specifically focused on the squatter/lease forgery issue rather than having to time-share forgery experts & such that may also be working on large complex cases.

  23. David, I’m willing to bet that largish and bigger police departments have and have always had, as well as prosecutors working with them, dedicated squads or divisions or etc. dealing with frauds, bunco and all the other crimes that require something more than the beat cop handing someone a ticket. Watch an old Dragnet episode or two. The first thing they need to do is see this as what it is, fraud. They are supposed to have been policing that from the start. Similarly, one decision that this represents an insured cloud on a title will make sure the money for civil litigation is there.

    Calling for a dedicated department will just be an excuse for delay while all the “proper” apparatus and especially all the new funding is allocated instead of what it is, a straight up dereliction of duty to enforce the law.

  24. A further thought: Imagine all the bill boards of lawyers offering to take title insurance companies to court over squatters. There’s some real money there.

  25. I think the biggest risk for this nonsense is houses that are up for sale. You move out, perhaps far out of the area for a new job or such, and you have to fix up the old house, then put it on the market and wait for it to sell. You’re often relying on the sale money to fund a the purchase of a new house in a new area. Meanwhile, the house is basically being *advertised* as vacant and in the best condition it’s going to be (because you’ve fixed it up to sell). Getting that call from the realtor “hey, did you rent the house? there’s someone living there…” would be a nightmare.

    Worst part is *sometimes* the squatters don’t know they are squatting. There are con-artists that specialize in “selling” or “renting” houses they don’t own. That’s a double pain, as by the time everyone realizes what’s going on, the real culprit is long gone.

  26. I have heard that you can hire someone, or several such, to persuade illegal squatter to move on. I’d assume that for your money you’d get a considerable amount of plausible deniability, and that if the process went off without incident that the local police force would whistle, look skyward and take another bite of their donut.


  27. Re: SGT Mom’s post on squatting. There’s been some hubbub in the media regarding the latest FBI crime report showing a decrease in crime rates (depending on how much you play with the baseline) and the Leftists now claim that crime as a campaign issue will in turn diminish. I don’t think so, whatever you feel about the actual rate. There’s a citizen side to broken window policing in which failures to maintain public, easily recognized measures of public standards and safety lead to fear since of course it is both law AND order.

    A man’s home is his castle, that’s why we have property rights and locks but a woman in NY get arrested for confronting squatters on her property? Homeless encampments in parks, on streets and other public places? Aggressive panhandlers and the return of the squeegee boys? Flash mobs and organized retail rings leading to your grocery visit to being a dystopian adventure of empty shelves and items in plastic lock boxes? You don’t have to either have experienced a crime or be afraid of doing so in order to know there is something very disorded in society,

    When we were in DC last November, we spent part of our urban hike going through the various neighborhoods in NW and had a chance to engage with some of the locals. They was a lot of anxiety and fear, crime has been skyrocketing in DC and there were now carjackings in wealthy and very white NW. However one person told us that even before the crime rate shot up they were afraid, pointing to events a few years before where gangs of teenagers on dirt bikes and ATVs would take over busy intersections, bringing traffic to a stand-still, and then riding off to do it again. He said he, and his neighbors, knew then that things were really bad. We in the business called these events “dust catchers’ because they create a framework that allow people to start associating other events and experiences to a larger whole.

    In DC, a couple of hundred yards away from one of those car jackings, is an intersection with an automated stop sign camera that brought in $1.4 million in fines over the past two years (https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2022/05/31/stop-sign-camera-northwest-washington/ ). At least some parts of DC public safetystill work right?

    Cops? Courts? The post-modernists taking over institutions see them solely as tools of oppression, they just want to control them for themselves; at least for the rest of us they maintain a tether of legitimacy to their original purposes (hypocrisy being the tribute vice pays to virtue). After George Floyd how many police departments, let alone individual cops, are going to be aggressive in enforcing the law if the incident stays below a certain threshold and people involved are a certain color? Easier to look away and maintain body and at least some soul. The lesson of Derek Chauvin hangs over all of this, once that video of George Floyd went public and the summer of violence, Chauvin was going to be sacrificed. Anyone who comes into contact with the judicial system loses big time.

    An interesting video on why you should never talk to the police, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FENubmZGj8

    Derek Chauvin is relevant to an earlier post regarding DEI (or for me these days, just HR) there’s the additional dimension of how white employees need to work within what is now a caste system in corporate America. Everybody has come to a tacit understanding that a white person is at an immediate and permanent disadvantage when in a disagreement or other forms of conflict with a person of a favored racial group because DEI/HR sees any such interaction as by definition prone to racism by the white person. Accordingly everybody involved knows that if push comes to shove the white male loses so these issues are resolved by capitulation before they become problems. Same with cops, every interaction between a white cop and non-white person has the potential to be , and therefor must always be treated as, racial.

  28. Few other things..

    A friend of mine just sent this video of Private security service in South Africa fighting car jacking…. Of course the story really is is that private security services are needed in South Africa to fight car jacknghttps://m.youtube.com/watch?v=TufZVbhUkkI

    Second another friend said my depiction of visible disorder trading years of crime is what he and his colleagues “The Kansas Effect”… As in Toto I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.

  29. Quickly, re: title insurance:

    When you buy a policy, it certifies that, as of the date of the grant of the policy, there were no outstanding title smudges. It does nothing for any problem that might pop up after that date. Title insurance covers the past, not the future.

Leave a Comment