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Foreclosured houses can be neighborhood problem
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Foreclosed homes have become a problem in most communities, and with the current trend, we will likely see an increase in the number of homes that have been repossessed or whose owners have turned them back to the lenders.

The homes that have been vacant for many weeks with deteriorating yards, overgrown weeds, bushes, accumulated debris, newspapers, advertising flyers and the like become attractive nuisances for the homeless, vandals and partiers. Some of these homes are also eyed by drug producers as a good place to cook methamphetamine. And now with the warmer, longer days, vegetation grows quickly. In just a few short weeks, that the home is foreclosed and vacant will be very obvious to trespassers and other criminals

The more responsible lenders have taken steps to care for these vacant homes. They hire contract services to take care of yards and lawns of the foreclosed homes, keeping them presentable and in decent condition. In doing so, these homes are less likely to be vandalized or trespassed. The care of these homes helps them retain their value, while making them less obvious targets from criminals. Vacant homes can be made to look lived-in by using automatic light systems and by changing things around occasionally. Of course, when there is a "for sale" sign displayed with no obvious indications that the home is inhabited, passersby will readily know that the home is vacant. This requires even greater vigilance on the part of the responsible party to keep the home from damage and destruction.

Another problem that will arise in the next few months is dying grass, weeds and shrubs that dry up after the rainy season. These conditions are a sure sign that the home is vacant, while posing a fire and rodent hazard, and must therefore be taken care of. We always recommend that the water and electricity service be kept active to allow for the proper care and maintenance of the foreclosed/vacant residence.

If you live in a neighborhood that has one or more vacant homes, it will help you and the neighborhood to notify the police of these locations. With that information, we can occasionally check these homes, looking for signs of neglect, trespassing, fire hazards and other problems. Most cities, as does Ceres, have ordinances that allow for the enforcement of provisions that require properties to be maintained properly. Code enforcement personnel will keep track of these vacant homes once the officers know about them, and if they start to deteriorate, the appropriate action will be taken.

Collectively, neighbors can greatly influence the safety and security of their neighborhoods. By watching for suspicious persons and vehicles and timely reporting of these incidents to the police, you can help keep your area from becoming a crime problem. Any form of neglect, whether the locations involve run-down yards, abandoned vehicles, accumulated trash or deteriorating foreclosed homes, are trouble magnets and advertisements that no one is paying attention. It is in everyone's best interest to report these problems and to keep them from becoming irreversible.

In Ceres, you can call our code enforcement unit, at 538-5799 to report vacant homes that have developing problems. For locations that are not yet having problems, but you believe them to be foreclosed, you can call Community Relations Officer Enrique Perez at 538-5735. He will compile a list of these locations and arrange for checks and follow-up action as necessary.