Abandoned, Foreclosed Homes Targeted by Criminals

By: Meghan Dwyer
By: Meghan Dwyer

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Rockford Police say burglaries to vacant homes are on the rise again.

Streets in Rockford are filled with vacant homes with shattered glass, holes in roofs, and trash everywhere.

Carla Redd from the Rockford Police Dept. said, "We find teenagers find these vacant homes and host parties there."

Police say it's a big problem, but the bigger problem is determining who's responsible. Many of the homes are foreclosed which means they are owned by the bank. Once burglars start stripping the home of everything valuable the value of the house dramatically drops.

Redd said, "They remove copper piping. They destroy the property just in and of itself."

They take cabinets and remove any leftover appliances. So far this year nearly half of all burglaries in Rockford have been to abandoned properties.

Edd said, "It becomes a nuisance in the neighborhood because they're not being cared for and left open and the potential for anything to happen next door to you increases dramatically."

Neighbors say they have been complaining about one home for months now (see video). It went through foreclosure and they say last week they saw a couple of teenagers trying to drag a girl inside."

So what's being done? Not much. Police are doing their best to secure the properties and ask the banks to step in when it's a foreclosed home.

Redd said about the banks that "quite often you won't get them to step up and take responsibility."

So they sit empty, unsecured fodder for criminals.

Don’t expect the problem to end anytime soon. Just last month there were nearly 300 foreclosure cases filed in Boone, Ogle, and Winnebago counties. That’s up 15 percent compared to February last year.

If residents want to do something about this problem, they can be vigilant. Keep an eye out for anything strange and definitely call police because they are keeping tabs on these properties. If the house is for sale, contact the Realtor and explain what's happening.

23 WIFR 2523 North Meridian Road Rockford, IL. 61101 Business: 815-987-5300 Fax: 815-965-0981 News: 815-987-5330 Fax: 815-987-5333
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