Crime is a serious problem in Anchorage. I’ve been affected by vandalism, theft, stalking, harassment and near-continuous trespassing. The police have been unable to support me or otherwise correct any criminal issues that have affected my personal life; and because of the impact on my personal life, my business and career have been affected adversely as well.
In the case of trespassing, my neighbors and I have experienced obstruction of justice.
In a recent instance, officers who appeared on-site at my neighbor’s request (we deal with the same trespassers who cross both of our properties) were first willing to enforce the law, but were suddenly told not to by their superior. I was on the phone with my neighbor while the officers were on-site, apologizing for not being able to perform their duties. This was after considerable time and preparation by my neighbor, acting based on assurances I received from another officer that repeat offenders would be held criminally responsible and would face prosecution.
I was in the process of reporting the same crime on my property, after sending orders to offenders who continued to trespass anyway. I wanted to take the next step of criminal prosecution. But after this incident, I have no confidence that the Anchorage Police Department would follow through and enforce the law. As a result, one wonders if any preparation will be useful, and if all trespass prevention activities are wasted efforts.
For this reason, and others to be described, property owners carry the burden of all aspects of criminal trespass prevention. Time-consuming activities include:
- Preparation and planning.
- Surveillance equipment and installation costs.
- Monitoring and evidence review costs.
- Legal preparation and lawyer consultation.
- Organization of materials and data storage/computing costs.
- Time required to be at the property to potentially catch trespassers (reduces time doing other activities, like running a business).
- Worry about on-site altercations that may inevitably result.
- Worry about what trespassers are willing to do.
- Costs of property crime and much more.
While it may seem possible to overcome this burden, the lack of police enforcement makes the situation impossible to correct for landowners, such as myself and my neighbors. The reason is simple. It is not possible to detect all crimes as they occur when the willingness of trespassers and criminals to resume activities goes unchallenged. With no enforcement, the pool of trespassers never dwindles. Landowners like myself face a numbers issue: There’s only one of me, a large piece of land (80 acres), and a large number of trespassers who are ready to trespass at all times of day (even at night).
When a landowner begins testing ways to detect trespass, there are early successes. But after considerable investment and time organizing images, posting cameras, relocating cameras and dealing with destruction of cameras, it becomes evident that almost all trespassing activities that happen go undetected. This prompts a desire to spend more money, more time, consult with lawyers more frequently, file more documents with police, and so on, in a process that will never actually end.
The result is that the property crime continues, landowners waste time and money, and the police become completely uninvolved in landowner support for basic rights.
In fact, trespassers are ultimately supported by such a process, and after a prolonged period of time, can take land by extortion and continual invasion, via prescriptive easement and adverse possession.
It is no wonder why people flee from places where property is not secure. I wonder what the overall impact is to other business owners like myself, who bring in considerable funds from out of state, only to find that fundamental rights are lacking. I wonder what the total impact to a declining economy might be?
These observations are not limited to trespassing activities, but any pervasive and unending property crimes that are not resolvable or addressed by law enforcement.
When basic rights are not provided, it signals that there are also corruption issues. I have evidence of likely corruption within Anchorage up to perhaps the state level. These issues affect the economy in diverse, untold ways.
Please support the Anchorage Landowner’s Association Facebook page if you can and provide a “like” if you have a moment. We are not just about landowner’s rights — we are about protecting people from private property issues in the face of an unsupportive government, diminutive police resources and unmitigated growth of crime-related issues.
Christopher Matthew “Matt” Cavanaugh is a business owner and member of the Rabbit Creek Community Council.
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