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Posted by on Aug 16, 2012 in Fraud, Scams, Walkaways | 11 comments | Print Print

Sharpie Punks

From reuters.com:

LOS ANGELES, Aug 16 (Reuters) – 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.

11 Comments

  1. wonder if dad was in on this ? maybe the short sale kick back or cash for keys offer from the bank was not sweet enough ?

    Kids are pissed off we are leaving them with the federal deficit tab. So instead of working extra to overcome the federal economic misgivings we are handing down to them, they are getting drunk, urinating, vomiting, and having sharpie parties in foreclosed houses.

    Can’t say I blame them.

  2. If I got angry and smashed your head in, would you blame me DD?

  3. A lot of technology, not much brains.
    I would think the DA could prosecute even if the banks do not want to.

  4. There was a home near work recently that was for sale, and empty, that attracted the attention of a mob of teenagers who decided to throw a big party in it late at night.

    Also attracting the Police to the home to stop the mayhem. There was damage to the house I believe. It was in the S.D. news.

  5. This is a pretty old phenomenon, with the added twists of foreclosures and sharpies. I recollect a past girlfriend’s high school kids holding a large but private party. News got sent around and quickly unwanted strangers intent on mayhem crashed the party. Lots of them. The hosts had to call the police on their own party to protect the house.

  6. DD:

    Do you honestly think that these vandals are that aware of the financial conditions facing them? Really? These are punks… pure and simple… intent on destroying something because everyone else was doing it.

    Most adults don’t know what’s going on until it hits them in the face.

    This is what happens in a society where there are no consequences for anything. These kids were all raised to think they are “special”, have high “self-esteem”, and were awarded trophies for playing T-ball on a losing team – simply because they showed up. Now that they are older, showing up simply isn’t good enough on it’s own.

    They should be forced to repair it by their own labor, pay for the materials, and then spend their nights in the graybar hotel “partying” with Bubba. Yes, a chain gang. Don’t have the money? Then make license plates for $.10 an hour until the debt is paid off.

    DD: Apologists like you are just as guilty as the savages who did this. People who destroy things for no reason are really nothing more than animals. Making excuses for them – and crediting them with the grey matter to perform a financial analysis on their economic plight is ludicrous.

    Which leads me to question… where were the neighbors while this was going on? Why didn’t they call the authorities? I doubt that the participants were quiet about running through walls or kicking the doors in…..

  7. I suspect this is all according to a plan carefully designed by sharpie’s marketing department.

  8. In South Africa,if the foreclosing bank doesn’t post a security gaurd or set up a system to flood the property with CS gas when burgled what happens is the house is stolen. First of all the wiring electrical and plumbing fittings, then the roof tiles and trusses, then the windows and doors including the frames and finally the bricks……….At a house my brother put a bid in on near the suburb of Thembisa near Johannesburg by the time it was approved by the forclosing bank (3 months) the only parts left of the house was the floors and oundation slab! All the materials were of course recycled into new buildings with the exception of the electrical and plumbing fittings which of course went for scrap.

  9. Katz, you are right, I gave them too much credit, I doubt they have any idea about our economic issues.

    And yes todays “tea cup” children are something else. I saw a couple at the beach pushing a kid in a stroller who had a helmet on !

    I think these kids need a swift kick in the ass.

  10. andrewa,

    probably a good description of what the USA has to look forward to.

  11. hahahahaaaaa….”tea cup” children. :)
    No kidding.

    Here is that S.D. teenage party in an empty house that was For Sale near work I referred to:

    http://www.10news.com/news/31282900/detail.html

    SAN DIEGO — A vacant house in Bay Park was trashed late Tuesday night by a mob of underage partiers. The home is vacant and for sale for more than $700,000. Someone apparently pulled the “For Sale” sign from the front yard and tossed it in the back yard.
    The owner told 10News he bought the home as an investment property. He is now facing a $5,000 loss because of all the damage from the party.

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