DeSoto police have added extra patrols in subdivisions hit hard by foreclosures, and some homeowners associations are even hiring off-duty officers to keep watch on empty houses.
Police have taken at least 15 reports of vandalism to vacant homes in DeSoto in the last nine months. In some cases, vandals even broke into the homes and trashed the inside.
Precious Johnson lives next door to an empty house that's been vandalized twice this year, and she's not surprised. When she bought her own house, it was broken into and vandalized before she could move in.
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"Every light in the house was broken," she said. "(There was) paint on the carpet upstairs, downstairs (on) the walls. They destroyed it pretty good."
Neighbors say they fear the vandalism will effect their property values, and police say they fear empty homes could become places for more serious crimes.
"Once a home is significantly damaged, you get a riff-raff element that will come in and set up shop," Capt. Ron Smith said.
Smith said the neighborhood patrols have helped reduce vandalism in recent months. Officers suspect teenagers are behind most of the incidents, which mostly happen at night.