Thefts affecting business & lives of residents - need suggestions


#1

This may get lengthy but it is a serious issue to me as this is basically my life now - as it is for others. I own a subdivision (can sell individual lots if wanted) in Texas. I have owned it for 4 years and bought it from the developer who had it for 5 years, so it is fairly new. I am struggling with a few thefts in the subdivision and some of it is becoming blatent. It has 171 lots and I have about 110 sold with about 100 homes in. My plan is to fill the subdivision as I feel there is a tremendous demand that is only getting stronger. At the same time, some thefts are occurring that is starting to leave a bad perception for potential buyers. Saturday I sold a lot and was to receive $5000 down (received $3k Sat. and was to receive other $2k today) but the buyers started talking to a neighbor and she told him there had been 2 break-ins the day before - that I had not heard about. Apparently, someone just kicked the doors in and it was in the daytime. Needless to say I got a call first thing this a.m. from them wanting their money back.

I normally only sell land/home packages as that is the most demand but I obviously was willing to sell the lot with that downpayment. I actually find there are a lot of people with significant downpayments as I have sold quite a few homes and lots this year like that. I get $3k to $5k or more down and keep their payments affordable ($500 to $650 range normally for land/home). Anyway, I had already been proactive in trying to prevent this situation by starting a neighborhood community watch program. We have monthly meetings designed to have neighbors meet and hopefully look out for each other. Residents have been told it is good to mark their electronic devices with their name and to write down serial numbers. The police have been coming to the meetings and he says our neighborhood is good compared to others. I try to bring residents I believe will be top notch residents and the downpayment usually weeds a lot of people out.

I have considered full-time security but obviously that would be costly and talking with the police they say that doesn’t work because security guards fall asleep or don’t accomplish what the objective is.

I have thought about paying to move one of the police officers helping me into the subdivision as he has a double-wide of his own but can’t afford to move it right now. I considered using part of the $5k (would cost about $2500 to tear down, move, setup, electric and plumbing hookups) to help him move here.

One recent burglary was to a woman, daughter and her daughter. No man in the house so they are petrified now and they are nice people. Do I try to install fences when I move a home in? Pretty expensive for me to do that… Do I install burglar bars on each home? That might not be sending a good message to buyers… Video surveillance? Subdivision covers 40 acres so not sure about that one.

It is very frustrating because unlike Don in a nearby post predicting doom and gloom, I see the tremendous upside as a manufactured home is the most affordable type of housing. We have enough battles everyday with trying to figure out how to bring homes in (as he mentioned), expenses, etc., so when this becomes another battle - and affects the bottom line - it is frustrating - and I feel real bad for people living there that have been affected.

The location is very desirable as it is near schools, shopping, expressway, etc. I try very hard to screen people and don’t think any of the people I have brought in are the problems. There are about 2 problem families in the subdivision but I am limited in what I have been able to do unless they don’t pay. They associate with each other and one of the sons just got out of jail and I have heard of selling marijuana, etc., and they are the rough type and basically not doing much all day. I learned a long time ago not to blame somebody until I was sure but things point that way…

I am sure with soaring gas and food costs that the people who do this type of thing are feeling more justified and feel like it is even more reason to steal. I am the last person to give up so I won’t but I could use some help… Thanks for any suggestions.

Sam


#2

Sam,

Maybe the appearance of tighter security will do some good. Pay a “security officer” (off duty cop) to sit outside the troublemakers house and write down plate numbers. Maybe you can buy an old partol car at the auction and have it lettered up as a security car. During the day pay a retired guy to patrol. My post was more on rental parks than subdivisions. But if you are moving used homes in what’s the upside for the guy who’s park it came from? Someones business is suffering. Texas deliveries in 1997 were 37,000 in 2007 they were 10,000. I really do hope things turn around and deliveries go back up but the numbers don’t reflect that at this time. Sounds like you are doing the right things and your business is going well. Good luck, hope the theft problem works out for you.

Don


#3

Regarding covering 40 acres with security cameras. . . .

If you think cameras might work/help, you don’t need to cover the whole 40 acres. Covering just the entrances/exits to the sub-division will record who’s coming and going and at what times.

Michael(KCMO)


#4

I read an article by Dave Reynolds that he had hired off duty deputies for a week and they would stop unknowns and run plates ect. Reynolds claimed this stopped the dopers, He claimed it was expensive $35 hr. but worth it. I have had good success with neighborhood watch program in co-ordination with Sherriff Dept


#5

Thanks to those that replied. I find it hard to believe that this topic didn’t generate more interest as I would think I’m not the only one to have this problem.

Anyway, Don I appreciate the suggestion. Not sure if I can afford that right away but not sure if I can afford NOT to do something.

To your comment about homes being removed from one park to go into another and leaving one to suffer, I suppose some of that will happen. But I have probably have 15 retail dealers within a 15 mile radius and I know a significant amount of their sales were to individuals that owned their own lot not in a park. I tried to do business with a few dealers and they basically didn’t care if they did business with me or not. They had enough buyers with land sources they didn’t need me. They wanted me when they wanted me but not enough to try to work something out that was mutually beneficial. As a matter of fact, it seemed like they wanted everything pointed to them - and I’m not a pessimist so I don’t mean to sound negative as I’m not. To be fair also, I’m in area where the majority of parks are for the winter vacationers but I still think most of family use is for separate parcels of land.

Somebody posted a few weeks ago about a paradigm shift with the manufacturers and how they will have to be part of the solution and I agree. Not all of us have the money to fill up parks/subdivisions with homes and not all of us can get approved with Clayton or other banks. And I know the numbers would be up on deliveries - as you mention - if they would send a few my way because I can sell all I can get with owner-financing… and if somebody defaults I’ll just do it again and the retail dealer/manufacturer won’t have the associated expenses of moving, etc., and I’ll even make the payments while I’m bringing somebody else in.

Michael thanks for suggesting the cameras at entrances. I also have thought about blocking one entrance/exit and having a gated entrance with code or something at the main entrance. I’ll have to see if I can do it with the city and how much cost will be involved.

Shawn I asked a local police officer about that and that might be something I would look into for now.

Again, thanks to all of you.

Sam