Vandalism is often an occurrence when forced to leave a home attended due to a bad faith insurance claim.
Vandalism was the last thing we needed to deal with after all we had incurred with the insurance company… With our property, we also own one sixth interest in a deeded water access property, three lots from our home. The lot is legally owned by the first six houses in the neighbourhood, dating back to the 1960’s I believe, maybe longer. Each owner receives a seperate tax bill and roll number different from our home properties, with our name on it from our municipality We have our own dock that the previous owners of our home built. Each person who owns a portion of the lot, at one time had their own spot for a dock. Our dock is the only one standing anymore as others have fallen in and the owners never bothered to replace them.
Since the day we moved in, we have always had issues with people thinking the property is a community lot, even though there are “private property’ and “no Trespassing” signs clearly visible. Once any of us explained that it was private property to trespassers, people were always understanding and cooperative and that would be the end of it. The odd time here and there, some of the neighbours would ask if they could use the dock if they were having guests or something like that. We respected that they asked and always gave them permission.
Then new neighbours moved in who apparently feel entitled to any other property in the neighbourhood as well. A few years before the fire, the new neighbour and another from way down the road from us, proceeded to bring pickup trucks full of dirt to our waterfront property. They made a large ramp from the road down into the property. His truck got stuck as the waterfront property is always very wet. The property sits on a canal. One of the other owners became very angry with him. This owner does all the lawn cutting with his tractor so the truck getting stuck, caused major ruts and it couldn’t be cut with the tractor. He never should have been on the property to begin with. Nobody has ever driven on it. Additionally, when we went down to fish off our dock, we noticed someone had replaced broken planks with new ones.
When we saw this new neighbour and the other one who had filled it in with the dirt, my husband confronted them about the dock. They proceeded to argue and say they were just trying to be good neighbours. No they weren’t. They thought they would fix it up for their own personal use. We thanked them for the dock and asked them to refrain from using it any further as it is private property.
Fast forward to a few years after the fire. We became friends with this new neighbour and his wife as we all had young children who liked to play together. Everything was fine. They asked us for dinner and often stopped by the property to visit when we were camping. Both he and his wife attended our son’s Tyson’s birthday party with their three children. They were parking their boat now at their neighbour across the street dock as he had a waterfront property with a dock off his backyard.
The following summer, we arrived to our dock to take Tyson fishing and there was a boat parked at our dock. My husband Dave went to the neighbour’s house to ask him if he knew who’s boat was parked at our dock since he lived in eyes view. he said it was his and he didn’t think we would mind because “it was one of us parked there.” Dave told him he could leave it there for a short time but he’d have to remove it because we were putting our boat in the water soon.
A week or so later we were informed that they were driving a gold cart down to the dock with their children’s friends, taking turns with them for boat tours. Non-owners regularly using the property was always a concern and issue to the actual owners. A) It is private property that we pay extra for and B) There is no insurance on the lot. Taking strangers children onto the lot and boat tours all day was of serious concern for all the owners. If one of those children was hurt in any way, it opened all of us to being sued.
We were all in Montreal at the time I learned of it all, on the road with Dave as he was trucking there from Toronto, Mondays through Fridays. So I messaged his wife through Facebook and politely told her that they had to remove the boat from the dock. She became very upset accusing us all of being very cruel. She wouldn’t let it go. She continuously messaged me about it. I repeatedly and politely told her not to take it so personally, that it was an issue that has always been happening and the owners just don’t want non-owners on the property. She wouldn’t let it go. She said that she was going to send her husband down to speak to Dave about it when we came back on the weekend. He never did. They did remove their boat though. When we saw them over the next few weeks, they would look the other way.
A few weeks later, we had camped on a Friday night at our trailer. We left fairly early in the morning to go to The Canadian National Exhibition (C.N.E. or The Ex, we call it here). We always lock up everything including Tyson’s toys whenever we leave. I had forgotten to pack up his brand new Nerf gun (a more expensive one), so I put it in a chair that sat beside the trailer door. I thought nothing of it as we’d never had anything stolen before and nobody could even see it as the back of the trailer faced the road. When we returned it was gone. I found it odd because anybody that ever strolled down to visit us were adults. Or kids with their parents. Angry with myself for not putting it away properly, I just shrugged it off as some kid must have come by and taken it.
The next day, Dave put the boat at the dock. It’ just a small aluminum fishing boat that we bring the motor with us. So before we left for the weekend Dave had put it on the shoreline upside down and tied the rope to the dock.
When we arrived the next Friday, Tyson and Dave were very excited to go out fishing in the boat. They rushed down to the waterfront lot as I stayed behind to unpack and get dinner started. Minutes later they returned, looking very sad. I asked what was the matter and Dave said the boat was gone. It had been stolen. We sat down in front of our firepit. From there you can see parts of the canal that runs behind the neighbours who live behind us. There through the trees and tall grass, I could see our boat floating in the water! Dave immediately went and borrowed one of our neighbour’s boats and retrieved it. The rope was inside the boat. It was obvious this was done on purpose. The boat was tied down. Even if the wind (even though there was no storm that week) had blown it in, the rope wouldn’t be inside the boat the way it was. We’d lived there over a decade and never had problems with anyone, ever. We knew who did it out of spite whether we could prove it or not. The weekend prior he had begun driving by our house and revving the engine very loud multiple times per day as well. He would slow right down as he did it too. The whole things was becoming a little creepy as he continued to do it but we tried to be adult about it, recognize it for the spite it was, and ignore it.
The following weekend we arrived to find serious vandalism had been done to our property. When Tyson went to play on his swing set, he cried out that all of his lights were broken. Because we had no power on the property, I had purchased and strung battery operated lights across his swing set so he could play when it was dark. Some of the lights remained on the structure, some were on the ground. It was obvious they had been cut. We looked around and found that our solar chandelier that hung from a tree had the wire cut also. Dave went over to the trailer to inspect it next and sure enough the main power line had been cut. It’s very thick so they were unable to cut all the way through. Dave saw red. Without hesitating he turned around and began walking down the street quickly to the neighbour’s house who we suspected did this. Tyson and I were behind him trying to get him to stop. Another neighbour was mowing his lawn and could see Dave was stressed and stopped him. Dave stopped to talk to him and he eventually calmed down and realized it wasn’t worth it.
This wasn’t even our trailer. It was my parents. Things were getting out of hand. I mean how low can go to cut a four year old little boy’s swing set lights? When we spent time with he and his family in the past, this neighbour used to always say how “we don’t know he is. He comes from the hood.” He would brag about stealing cars and doing bad things before he moved here. We knew it was him. It was a series of targeted events that began when we asked him to remove his boat from our property.
If anything happened further, it would be Dave getting in trouble for losing his temper on this neighbour. So we decided to report it to the police. Even the police officer said it was them without a doubt. The police paid him a visit and told his wife that if anything further occurred they would be charged. Guess what? It stopped. But he did continue to rev his truck in front of our property for the rest of the season every time we were there.
He also called Dave and I out publicly in our neighbourhood’s Facebook page. He began with “In case anyone’s wondering why the police were at our house today, it’s because Dave and Sherrill accused us of vandalism at their property. He tried to coerce me into an argument and stated we should “just clean our property up. Nobody wants to look at that anymore.” He of all people knew how badly the insurance company treated us since we used to be friends. Another member of the group stated to him that it wasn’t really the place to be airing his dirty laundry and he soon removed his post.
A neighbour of his later told me that she would tell him often he could not use the property because it was private property. She told me when he bought the house, that the real estate agent had told him he was free to use the dock. She told me he was obsessed with this waterfront lot. It drove him crazy, being in eyes view and not being able to use it.
Another one of our neighbours later told us that he had seen them (he and his wife) do the vandalism.
The following summer when we returned to our property (we stay with family in the winter), always wondering what vandalism we might arrive to. Instead, we arrived to his boat parked again at our dock when we went to put our boat in. The “No Trespassing” & “Private Property” signs were ripped off of our dock and sitting in his boat. Dave went to his house where his wife was outside. She said she’d go get him. He wouldn’t come outside. So as Dave, Tyson and I began to go down the street back to our property, he finally came out. He stood on the very end of his driveway, careful not to come on the street. he began yelling insults, telling us he doesn’t have to move his boat because it’s a community dock. He was basically trying to provoke an all out brawl in the middle of the street. It was disgusting. His wife said “Whatever trailer.” I said “What did you say?” She said “You live in a trailier.” Actually we stayed in the trailer, mostly on weekends in the summer. But their next door neighbour’s who ARE living in a trailer full time due to a recent fire, were standing right beside her when she said that. It shouldn’t be long before most see their true colours. Then I turned and saw Tyson, five years old now, at the dock. He had untied their boat from our dock and was pushing it away off our dock! I ran down and got him and we left.
We again telephoned the police. We wanted an end to this. We didn’t want another summer of it. An officer came out, took our reports, took note of our signs in his boat and said she’d be laying trespassing charges. A trespassing charge in Canada is a criminal offence and carries a heavy fine. About a month later, she contacted me and said she had been stopping by their house often. Cars were in the driveway but they would never answer the door. She asked me for a for a formal report as well. I said okay and I would get back to her.
Another month passed. It was nearly September now. I hadn’t sent the formal report yet. The police officer arrived at our property. She said that she had just stopped by their house again but no answer, even though the cars were in the driveway. She said once she had our report, we was going to just lay the charge and she left.
A short time later, I was raking up the wood pile. Dave was up at the trailer with the music playing very loud. I could hear someone yelling. I moved so I could see behind the trailer to the road and there came the two neighbours, husband and wife, yelling, calling us on from halfway down the road. I tried to get Dave’s attention to tell them they were there but he couldn’t hear me over the music. Their yelling got louder as they approached our property. Dave could hear it so he turned down the music and looked to the road. There they stood on the edge of the road and our property, creating a huge spectacle, yelling “You called the cops on us!” and laying insults. Dave said “I didn’t call anyone. Go home little man.” he is a very small person with little man syndrome. They kept yelling and Dave told them to go back down the road. he began to walk in their direction and they began to leave. they carried on all the way down road.
As much as we wanted it to all end, we really didn’t want to follow through with the trespassing charge. it would give him a criminal record. he does have a good job that requires him to have a clean record. He has three children and a wife who does nothing to contribute. We didn’t want to have that kind of impact on his life. About a month later, I contacted the police officer and told her we’d let it go for now and why. She said she understood but not to hesitate if the problem persisted next year. We won’t hesitate either. We’ve been way to nice to here. We’re not putting up with any further harassment or vandalism.
After everything that’s happened with the fire, now we have to constantly worry what kind of vandalism is happening when we’re not there. We are always worried the vandalism is going to happen to Tyson’s things. A five year old boy doesn’t deserve this at all. I try so hard to install being kind to others and it just feels like we are being bullied. When will this nightmare ever end?