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‘Sharpie Parties’ Wreak Havoc on Foreclosed Homes

AOL  In the age of Facebook and Twitter, a new crime has hit America: “Sharpie parties,” gatherings of party revelers armed with “Sharpie” magic markers and lured by social media invitations to wreak havoc on foreclosed homes.

Five years into the U.S. foreclosure crisis, Sharpie parties are a new form of blight on the landscape of boarded-up homes, brown lawns and abandoned streets. They are also the latest iteration of collective home-trashing spurred by social media.

At least six Sharpie parties were reported in one California county in recent months, where invitations posted online drew scores to foreclosed homes.

The partygoers are handed Sharpie pens on arrival by their hosts and urged to graffiti the walls – a destructive binge that often prompts other acts of vandalism including smashing holes in walls and doors, flooding bathrooms and ripping up floors.

The California spree follows a similar outbreak earlier this year, when teenagers wrecked homes in states including Texas, Florida and Utah after seeing the movie Project X. The film features a house wrecking party sparked by online invitations.

Anna Hazel, an investigator in the Merced district attorney’s office in central California, said the use of social media is a very effective way for partygoers to find the address and to track the progress of the party.

It also provides a treasure trove of evidence for the police.

Hazel said in her most recent case of “extensive destruction” to a foreclosed property, the host of the Sharpie party posted an invitation to “Matt’s House of Mayhem” on a Facebook page.

At least 100 people turned up. Hundreds of smartphone text messages describing the party were also sent.

They drank alcohol, scrawled profanities on walls, smashed glass, tore up parts of the house and left garbage strewn everywhere.

“We obtained search warrants for Facebook accounts,” Hazel said. “It was very useful to us to get access to the social networks. They posted pictures of the party. They were brazen about it.”

Three men, aged 21, 24 and 30, were arrested on suspicion of felony vandalism, burglary and conspiracy. One of them was the son of the evicted former owner.

“The Sharpie party is the newest twist here,” said Larry Morse, the district attorney in Merced County, California. Morse said he has investigated vandalized homes after six “Sharpie parties” in recent months.

Andy Krotic, a Californian realtor, said: “It’s a growing fad among young people, especially the Twitter crowd. They throw a big party, everyone gets a Sharpie, and they are invited to write on the walls and spray paint.”

Krotic said in one recent case partygoers shot arrows through the wall, hitting a room in a neighbor’s house.

Banks that own the foreclosed homes are reluctant to pursue the perpetrators, Krotic says, because they don’t have the resources to hunt down the miscreants. Even if they’re caught, the unwanted publicity from their prosecution would likely incite more parties.

“Usually they leave the damage and just drop the price,” Krotic said.

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10 Responses to ‘Sharpie Parties’ Wreak Havoc on Foreclosed Homes

  1. camil2003 says:

    Ha seems like people have found a creative outlet to stick it to the banks.

  2. schlomo says:

    It’s not vandalism if the owner or tenant is still the owner or tenant, and allows it. If it is vandalism, then it is also vandalism if they stencil nice ivy and flowers on the wall. Who can say what is artwork and what is “vandalism”? There are many people who like graffiti and name tags.

  3. evilobamagolem says:

    old news, vacant houses have been vandalized since the beginning of time.

    what s new is the vandals/kids are getting stupid, easy to track them down with the social policing i mean social networking system

  4. diggerdan says:

    banks got their house back didn`t they hahaha. quick to forclose aren`t they. Just too bad some punk vandal is most likely going to have to pay for damages and have a criminal record to make matters worse for those involved.

  5. Carol says:

    There is nothing funny about this. Didn’t your parents teach you not to destroy someone else’s property? It’s like something a child would do.

  6. Joe says:

    But if I’m the bank and own a dozen houses in a neighborhood via foreclosure, and there is demand in the market, and 6 are destroyed by vandals, the value of the remaining will increase. And if the house survives demolition, someone will need to get another bank loan to repair it. Banks win…again.

  7. Joe says:

    Banks don’t fight the destruction because, as in war on an international scale, banks have always embraced destruction, have always profited from it, and always will. If this practice actually injured banks, it would be stopped at all cost.

    • You are exactly right Joe, the banks WANT these houses destroyed.

      If someone wanted to do real damage to the banks, they’d form a organization which would take advantage of the 2005 SCOTUS decision which allows private entities to utilize a municipality’s power of eminent domain to seize another party’s private property when it could be shown that more tax revenue could be derived by re-purposing….. and then work with their city to take these empty, foreclosed homes from the banks, fix the property back up to code (since the banks have let the properties degrade), and put a family back in there JUST TO PAY THE PROPERTY TAX.

      Then the city benefits from renewed revenue, a family gets a home or the home they were kicked out of back from the bank…. and the bankers can all go die, die and go straight to hell.

  8. Jolly Roger says:

    This is non-news

    Has anyone ever seen a vacant building that wasn’t covered in graffiti?

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