Real Estate & Property Law
Advertising with Impunity on Craigslist, Foreclosed-Home Strippers Avoid Sanctions
Posted Dec 23, 2009 1:11 PM CDT
By Martha Neil
When a potential buyer walks into a foreclosed home, it isn't unusual to see gaping, often jagged holes where items of value including appliances, cabinets, countertops, sinks, toilets and doors, among other items of value, used to be.
And it isn't just ordinary thieves who are doing the stripping. Soon-to-be-former owners about to lose their homes to the bank are among those seeking to cash in from anything they can take out and sell, reports the New York Times.
But, unlike ordinary thieves, they aren't necessarily committing a crime. Absent a break-in, many states don't have laws to address this kind of theft, according to the newspaper. Hence, owners in these states can even advertise the items for sale on Craigslist—as a number do—with impunity. While it may be a civil fraud to strip the house, the long arm of the law can't slap the cuffs on the culprit. And, as a practical matter, civil litigation offers little or no chance of recovery, so it probably won't even be attempted.
In Arizona, where a state fraud law covers such misconduct, the FBI has arrested several individuals for house-stripping after being led to the suspects by Craigslist advertising. In nearby Nevada, however, “If the homeowner sells the components to the house while they still own the house, that’s not a crime,” says spokesman Bill Cassell of the Las Vegas police.