No good deed goes unpunished. And Michael Vercher and his family are finding that out the hard way.
The Verchers of Woodstock, Georgia, were set to vacate the family home they’d lost to foreclosure when they decided they would let their bad fortune at least benefit others. The family posted an ad on Craigslist offering a giveaway of several household items they’d put out in their driveway for all those interested. But before they knew it, droves of people arrived at the house and decided to take what was inside as well, including family heirlooms, NBC 11 reports.
Ties between foreclosure and such crime in the surrounding area recently have been found, but one does not necessarily cause the other. Rather, both are signs of a community in distress, according to a 2010 study.
Now the family, who had lived there for 20 years, is asking only that people return some of the items they took, no questions asked. As of September, Georgia had the sixth-highest foreclosure rate of any state in the country, according to RealtyTrac’s U.S. Foreclosure Market Report, cited by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
It's not uncommon for foreclosed homes to become the site of theft. In fact, homeowners have in some cases alleged the banks themselves were responsible for snagging items from the homes. Several lawsuits claim lenders have hired contractors to break into homes, often to change the locks, The Huffington Post reports. In many cases, the homes are ransacked while still occupied,
Meanwhile, a 2010 lawsuit against Bank of America alleged the bank removed nearly all of the personal items from a foreclosed home without alerting the owner, according to The New York Times.
Other times, it has been the homeowners themselves that have also vandalized the foreclosed homes. Some have poured cement down the kitchen sink. Others take out their frustration after they've been evicted from the home, such as when vandals threatened new residents by spray painting a message on the garage door that things were “only going to get worse.”