Foreclosure can be frustrating, but one couple found the process so upsetting that they allegedly decided to cut down some trees and throw them in their pool before moving out.
A jury in Riverside, California found Monique Acosta of French Valley guilty of removing fixtures from a mortgaged property after she and her husband allegedly vandalized their foreclosed home by staining floors with dye, defacing cabinets, spray painting walls and more, the Press-Enterprise reports. The jury hasn't reached a verdict for Acosta’s husband Robert, a retired police officer, but Monique could face up to four years in jail.
Though the Acosta's actions may seem outrageous, they certainly aren't the first homeowners to vandalize their homes before moving out. A Huntington Beach, California property was found with $250,000 worth of damages after its former owners allegedly poured cement down the drain, ABC News reports. Recently in Minnesota, prospective home owners found the words, "Take my house [expletive]… only going to get worse," scribbled on the garage of the house they were about to close on.
Still, it's not only evicted homeowners that vandalize foreclosed properties. The problem has become so worrisome that lawmakers in California are proposing legislation that would crack down on crime associated with foreclosed properties including vandalism, squatting and burglary, KGET reports. Nevada officials passed similar legislation last year that boosted penalties for foreclosure vandals.
Vandalized and vacant homes can drive down surrounding property values, but it's foreclosed homes that do the most damage to prices. Foreclosed homes drive down property values twice as much as vacant properties, according to a study from last year. Upkeep for vacant homes cost neighbors as well. American taxpayers will spend $40 million just to keep the lawns mowed at vacant govenment owned homes of which there are estimated to be around 250,000.
There may be hope though, as foreclosures have been declining nationwide. In April the number foreclosures across the country fell 7 percent compared to the month before.