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Squatters trashing foreclosed / abandoned homes in Vegas

Realtor Ashley Hawks takes closer look at debris and leftover packaging following the eviction of squatter at one of her listed properties. (Ophelia Young/FOX5)

Realtor Ashley Hawks takes closer look at debris and leftover packaging following the eviction of squatter at one of her listed properties. (Ophelia Young/FOX5)

Squatters are becoming a serious problem in some parts of Las Vegas, illegally moving into abandoned and foreclosed homes. Sometimes the problem is so serious that entire condo complexes are overrun. (One does have to wonder why the HOAs and management companies are apparently unable to do anything to stop it.)

Casa Vegas was once a modest but solid community near Maryland Parkway and Vegas Valley Drive but squatters have turned it into a living hell. Residents are scrambling to get out. Realtors can’t rent or sell available units. And investors are seeing their money go down the drain.

This isn’t just homeless. This often is semi-organized crime. They rip out and sell anything of value. Fires have been started. The result of this in Casa Vegas is anyone who can leave is, even if that means selling at a loss. Then the condo complex just spirals down to being a complete wreck.

Thousands of squatters, among them suspected scam artists who scheme to get utilities turned on at their chosen targets, living for free as they plot their end game: getting a bank to pay them to leave in a racket known as cash-for-keys.

Using bogus leases, the scammers bring crime. Some have run drug, prostitution and weapons sale rings from their adopted homes. Others have started fires and slowly stripped houses of all resalable items.

Some squatters “lease” units to other squatters. New laws make unlawful occupancy and housebreaking crimes (why weren’t they already crimes?) and makes it easier to get police involved.

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