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Trouble with Vandalism - Sorry, this is LONG

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  • Trouble with Vandalism - Sorry, this is LONG

    Here is the back story: My DH and I purchased a wooded lot (10 acres) in a semi-rural area just outside of Chapel Hill, NC a few years ago and have been slowly working to build a house/barn/etc. on it. We began building the house this spring and are scheduled for a move-in date of September 15, or so.

    So, during the past few months the following things have happened:

    1. Our contractor's sign describing site/permit/contractor information was smeared with mud three times. We originally assumed that it must be a kid.

    2. A pretty wacky sign was placed on the water tank at the home site. You can view it here. As a result, we posted a no trespassing sign.

    3. Our No Trespassing signs were torn and replaced three separate times. These are plastic signs that are attached with a staple gun to a piece of plywood that is attached to a tree. This happens every few weeks, or so. Just long enough in between that you start to think that nothing else will happen.

    4. Another sign was posted on the No Trespassing sign last week. This one wasn't as weird as the last one, but still demanded that the workers keep the noise down. This one said "The neighborhood would appreciate if you keep the noise DOWN"

    5. This morning our contractor's sign was actually gouged out in several places. Not torn down, but gouged as if someone took the time to rip out holes with a tool. The No Trespassing sign was carefully ripped in several places. Again, it seemed as if care was taken not to tear it down, just to damage it.

    Our lot is bordered on the left, rear, and across the road with vacant lots that are 10 acres at the smallest. Out only direct neighbors are to our right and are about 900 feet away. The first time my DH met them the wife informed him that she was very upset that our lot and two others had been sold and were being developed. She indicated that when she found out that another lot was going to be subdivided she got so angry that she walked away while the lot's contractor was still speaking to her. She was also angry that the third lot was getting a modular home and was going to be rented out.

    The second time my DH met them was when they drove over last Fall to demand that he stop shooting his gun (he was safely sighting in a rifle during the middle of the day and they came over after about two shots). He politely explained what he was doing and that he would be done within the hour. They were angry and drove away. DH has since been accepted to a private shooting range nearby and has not needed to shoot at the property. He also refrained because he got the impression that these neighbors were sort of intense and wanted to avoid provoking any neighbors before we had even moved in. The mud smearing didn't begin until this spring, however.

    So, what the heck do we do about this? We've filed a police report and the police have confirmed that there aren't any children living further down our road (which is a dead end gravel road with about 8 residents toward the other end). We've sent out an email to the other neighbors that share our road informing them of what's been going on. The unhappy neighbors do not share our road. I would love to put up a camera at the entrance to the property where the signs are located. DH has a trail camera, but is afraid that in order to place it where he could get a shot it would be visible enough for it to be stolen by the sign-ripper.

    Any advice? I have two small children and am going to be living back in the woods with no other neighbors besides people that I don't trust, so this is making me a bit nervous.
    "A good man will take care of his horses and dogs, not only while they are young, but also when they are old and past service." Plutarch

  • #2
    Camera is your best bet. Otherwise, I doubt these people are going to stop.

    Try and disguise the trail camera as best you can, maybe in a birdhouse or some other clever idea

    Or you can buy wireless spy cameras that have night modes, for not that much money.

    Good luck!
    Lucy (Precious Star) - 1994 TB mare; happily reunited with her colt Touch the Stars


    • #3
      I'd probably set up a visible "fake" camera and then hide the real one.

      Talk to your contractor about security around the building site -- I doubt he wants his stuff damaged or stolen.

      I'm sorry you're going through this. Not feeling comfortable on your own land is an awful feeling.

      ETA... assuming you are NOT holding loud parties, is it possible that a local herd of feral teenagers has chosen your lot to gather on, and THAT'S the noise they're hearing?
      ... and Patrick


      • #4
        Well, you moved close to somebody who was counting on all that undeveloped land to be undeveloped forever I guess, and the housing market priced them out of buying the buffer they needed.

        I don't know why people think the best way to introduce themselves to their new neighbors is to go over and bitch. My neighbors let their kids play in the car and the kids hang out honking the horn and playing the radio real loud. I figure if they are done by 10 that's a reasonable time, but I do worry that I'm going to hear the Mom screaming and wailing one day because one of them's shut himself in the trunk and died there. They were here first and it isn't as though I didn't know how they acted.

        Now if you bought a lot in the woods that was quiet, it might be because the neighbors are quiet. Why would they post little passive aggressive notes about whooping and hollering and honking if it never happened? Is your contractor's crew being obnoxious? I've met guys that wouldn't think twice about riling up the neighbors and then making you, the homeowner, have to deal with it.

        Best bet is to go on over and have a nice chat. Try to find some common ground and make yourselves neighborly. They may be nucking futs but at least you'll have tried.
        Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
        Incredible Invisible


        • #5
          7 at night? These people must really go to bed early. Talk about passive-aggressive though! I feel bad for you, it's so exciting to build a new house but not so much when you're wondering which one of your neighbors is a nut case... and you haven't even moved in yet. And they're brazen enough to confront your husband while they know he's got a loaded gun?

          Don't know what your budget is, but I'd definitely be considering some type of camera security system. One that records somewhere else so even if they stole/destroyed the camera you would know who did it.

          Have any of your other neighbors had difficulty with them?


          • #6
            That is very odd that a) this started around the time that school let out, b) that your contractors would be making noise at 7PM of that nature (honking and hollering). That makes me suspect that some kids have been using your land as some sort of hangout, and your neighbors think it is you making all the ruckus.

            I lived in my house through 6 months of construction for additions, and it was noisy while they were working (radios, hammers, saws, etc.), but they would always quit promptly at 5PM. And their construction noise did not include honking (unless you count that beep-beep when backing up some construction equipment), and the hollering, well, it's the only way they could hear each other over the other noise, and as well all know, sound carries far out in the country.

            I agree that 7PM is a bit early to be complaining about the noise, but if you are not the source of the noise, that would raise alarm bells for me. Is your construction crew working that late?

            It may also be that your neighbor works off shift and is trying to sleep at that time.

            I agree with the camera concept, try to catch the perps in the act, and then go to the authorities so they can deal with it.

            You have my sympathy, it totally sucks when you have to deal with irrational people that think the sun revolves around them, and that no one else has any rights. Wishing you good luck at getting this resolved.
            There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams


            • #7
              You have a contracting crew that works past 5pm??
              (I shouldn't say that, my electrician works until 6)

              I think you've just got a case of nutter-butters on your hands! You've done the right thing calling the police, keep documenting everything. I would definitely put up a trail-cam and I really like WSMs idea of the fake camera. Also put up signs about it.

              I know our new neighbours had some problems last year, but that was mail-boxes smashed sorts of things, and they all put up cameras. No problems since, but it's hard to tell if that was actually a deterrent since it was probably kids.
              "For some people it's not enough to just be a horse's bum, you have to be sea biscuit's bum" -anon.
              Nes' Farm Blog ~ DesigNes.ca
              Need You Now Equine


              • Original Poster

                Yeah, I'm assuming that the reason that they moved to the area was because they like the quiet. I get that - I like the quiet, too. We did speak with the workers who were there the day that the whooping and hollering sign was posted. They confirmed that they left around 7 and were singing along to their music. The contractor has asked all of the workers since that time to watch the noise level, but it IS a construction site. We've had several different groups of sub-contractors work until 6 or 7 each night of their portion of the job. I am usually out there each evening anywhere between 6 and 8 - I've never experienced any noise issues myself. Also, I am 99.9% certain it is not a hangout spot. There is none of the litter or evidence you might associate with that. The whole situation is very strange.

                I like the idea of the fake camera and the real camera. That's a good idea!

                My DH also did try to go over and speak to them once, but I agree that it might be a good idea to try again. I'm assuming that these are the people who are causing problems, but I don't KNOW that. Another reason for the camera, I guess. The problem is that the trail camera would have to be really close in order to get any sort of a clear shot and the end of the driveway where the signs are is almost 500 feet from the house. Too far for any of the wireless cameras I've looked at to broadcast.

                ETA: DH has already pre-wired the entire house for cameras, too.
                "A good man will take care of his horses and dogs, not only while they are young, but also when they are old and past service." Plutarch


                • Original Poster

                  The whole things seems so strange to me. Why vandalize the signs but not the house (not that I want them to, obviously)? Are they going to freak out when my kids play outside? My paddock is going to be down by the road, as well. Ugh.
                  "A good man will take care of his horses and dogs, not only while they are young, but also when they are old and past service." Plutarch


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Underwhelmed View Post
                    I like the idea of the fake camera and the real camera. That's a good idea!

                    My DH also did try to go over and speak to them once, but I agree that it might be a good idea to try again. I'm assuming that these are the people who are causing problems, but I don't KNOW that. Another reason for the camera, I guess. The problem is that the trail camera would have to be really close in order to get any sort of a clear shot and the end of the driveway where the signs are is almost 500 feet from the house. Too far for any of the wireless cameras I've looked at to broadcast.

                    ETA: DH has already pre-wired the entire house for cameras, too.
                    "Oh, sure, you may be able to take down one smurf, but mark my words: You bonk one smurf, you better be ready for a blue wave."---Bucky Katt


                    • #11
                      Time to get started on those privacy shrubs and boundary fences!


                      • #12
                        While I understand how your neighbour feels about development, if its her that's posting the signs, tearing down the other signs and smearing the mud, you have a certified whacko on your hands.

                        Is there any validity to her complaints?

                        Check your local bylaws if you haven't already. Send her a copy with the relevant ones highlighted. Inform her in the same package that you now have several remote cameras to catch the trespassers who ahve been vandalizing your property ( even if you haven't). Such whackos are often cowards and the threat alone may stop things for a bit anyway. While you actually figure out how to get your land monitored. Tell her what date you expect the contractors will be finished too, so she has an end date to wait on. That might help, if she knows when it will be over.

                        Around here, noise bylaw says contractors cannot start until 7 AM, but they can go til 9 PM. After that, noise has to be of a reasonable level. Between those hours, pretty much anything goes. Ask me about it. We have had the land surrounding us clearcut ( it was 90 year old mature forest 5 years ago) and 3 monster houses built that lord over our 60 year old farmhouse and have completely destroyed our privacy. Now they are building another 4 car garage, 6 bedroom, 6 bathroom, 7000 sq ft house in front of us and remodelling the one beside us. The noise of treefalling, jackhammering, bulldozers, carpenters, etc has been pretty constant over the the last 5 years, as of course, the lands were sold piecemeal and contractors started building one house at a time. The noise, the dust, having to chase them off our land when they took down boundary fences, stopping them from cutting down OUR trees, its all unbelievable.

                        But nothing I can do about it- its the new owner's land and my days of semi nudity in my back yard and falling asleep before 9 PM are long over.

                        So I try and enjoy the evenings after the noise and dust stops.

                        And wait for them to be finished. The new house guy says they hope to move in December.

                        "The Threat of Internet Ignorance: ... we are witnessing the rise of an age of equestrian disinformation, one where a trusting public can graze on nonsense packaged to look like fact."-LRG-AF