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Hotbed of illegal activity busted at vacant home

Posted at 6:30 AM, Sep 30, 2016

A problem property that has plagued a West Phoenix neighborhood for months is finally boarded up and on its way to the auction block.

Neighbors have been complaining of people coming and going at all hours at the home near 79th Avenue and Indian School Road, suspecting drug activity, prostitution and squatters.

It finally caught the attention of Phoenix Police who began watching the house in January.

Rather than throw in the towel, police say neighbors started taking notes about suspicious people showing up at the house, noting how long they’d stay, taking down license plate numbers and reporting it directly to their Community Action Officer. When police finally moved in on the house they found it was a pit stop for burglars and car thieves, stashing stolen goods in the house and destroying the inside.

"Fluid on the floor, graffiti on the wall, windows were damaged, doors damaged, it was deplorable, really a mess," said Sgt. Vince Lewis.

Sgt. Lewis says they removed two truckloads of junk from the house, boarded up the doors and walls and made a criminal seizure of the property.

"It's a feeling of relief, now I can have my kids playing out here because honestly I couldn't have my kids out here,” said neighbor Ricardo Mejia.

Multiple people were detained at the time of seizure and police say anyone caught trespassing now will be arrested.

Sgt. Lewis says while some neighbors may have gotten frustrated in the drawn-out process of the investigation, persistence is key and he recommends anyone in a similar situation continue to report such crimes.

"Hopefully no feels like they're being annoying or wasting our time. This is your neighborhood, too," he said.

To find out who the Community Action Officer is in your neighborhood and how to contact them, first head online to identify which precinct you are in.