What to do about groups of people loitering around my building?

115 Replies

I'm a month into house hacking my 3 unit and I can't get people to rent because of the crowd of random people hanging out on the side walk between my place and the liquor store just north of me. I never saw anyone outside during the several visits to the place when I was looking at the building and now they're here all the time. This is in Humboldt Park, Chicago, Illinois.

If it's legwork talking with my alderman or going to townhall meetings, I'm ready and willing. I'm curious if anyone has any creative methods like spraying something stinky on the sidewalk when they're not there, or if anyone has had luck installing cameras. They like to hang out in the alley way along the north side of the building as well where I can easily see them. None of them live around here but congregate to smoke cigarettes and look around with one another. Some are drinking which I call the cops immediately for but it doesn't seem very effective. Any ideas?

Some police departments allow civilians to hire their off-duty officers (they vet the proposed deal carefully). These off-duty police are paid to sit in their police cars in uniform. The bad element (drug dealers, whatever) move on.

I've also heard of people who put up web cams. The bad element figures out they are being watched and also move on.

flood lights might help.

camera's may help. get one with a LED indicator so people know it's on

the police suggestion was a good one as well. have them out there 2-3 times during peak nuisance so they know it's not being well received.

Since you're looking at renting out your building, you might want to consider adding a home security system and have the monthly monitoring cost (charged by the alarm company) built into the rent. If you're in a high-crime area, this might be an amenity to offer.

Some cities have an opt-in program where people with web cams can volunteer to let the police see any video footage of a crime. The police can always access the footage by going to court and getting a search warrant, but opting-in means you've given them permission ahead of time.

When I sold my house a few years ago, the paperwork asked about a burglar alarm. What has changed over the years is that these systems have gotten much cheaper and more sophisticated than they were when I had mine put in.

Security systems don't eliminate crime. Surveillance video is shown all the time on the local evening news asking the public's help in identifying the robber. But at least there's satisfaction knowing that the bad guys might more likely be brought to justice.

You're in Humboldt Park. That's to be expected in that area, and will be for some time to come. It's something you will have to deal with. Standing and smoking is not a crime. If they aren't bothering you, just deal with it until the area changes...or move.

Buy some adt security signs and stick them on posts in plain view get some fake cameras with led lights ... if it goes on you could pay a local security guard with free fine to wear his uniform and walk up and down the sidewalk for 15$ an hour each Friday or Saturday night for a few weekends till they get spooked and leave

Does Chicago have District Supervisors?  You could try joining NextDoor so you can team up with your neighbors and make a big fuss to your District Supervisor.  Does the local police station have community meetings?

Although before taking those measures, I would make sure that what they are doing is actually illegal...

Originally posted by @Steve Armstrong :

Years ago in Cincinnati, near UC, they played loud classical music to get people off the streets. It worked!

 I was going to say get one of those noise disrupters cruise ships use to aim at pirates off the Somalia coast.. 

in all honesty having been in those areas you speak of I don't think the police will do any thing unless it gets violent.

here is what I do when we go into these areas that are sketchy.

In Detroit..  Need I say more.. when we rehabbed houses there we had to have retired cops on site clocking every one in picture and copy of ID.. turned out most of our theft was from workmen who put the stuff in during the day and came back at night and stole things.. that really worked.

In Chareleston SC  were we were building new construction right next to the projects and in VERY transitional neighborhoods My builder ( who is a genius at this) made friends with neighbors  he brought them gifts etc etc.

and we gave them a bonus once we sold.. with new construction its hard to secure these jobs sites especially in that city were the access's are so tight.. this really worked.. I know a few others that had on average 3 robberies during the course of rehabbing.. we have not Had ONE in 4 years.. By the time Troy is done smoozing them they take ownership.. and boy they are not letting anyone on our jobs and will call the police.. now the police in Charleston are not Chicago they are on it and on it hard..

However I think this being a social problem it wont change . .and if you don't like it I would sell and move..

In Portland we have another issue.. HOMELESS camping all over the place.. and they will buy a camper park it on the street in front of your home and just start living there.. steal your water make a freaking mess. its insane how these folks want all this compassion but then go on to ruin peoples lives by intimidation and creating waste were ever they go.

@Danny Maller , how do you know they are dealing drugs? Have you bought or sold anything, or are you just assuming because they are loitering and of a certain race they must be selling? One thing you don't want to do is make trouble because residents impede on YOUR sense of comfort. You moved into an area where practices and goings-on have been long established. Either learn to live with it or move! They aren't bothering you, so why do you even care? If you wanted a neighborhood where 90 year old ladies can walk their poodles at 3am, then you picked the wrong area!

Just like you are making assumptions about your neighbors, if police start getting called, they will know EXACTLY who is calling, and you will make yourself and your property a target.

@Ray Harrell You are assuming that I am assuming. I've witnessed about 10 drug deals in the alley from my kitchen window on several occasions. I've witnessed about 5 men smoking crack on several occasions and standing there in the alley drifting off into space while the cops are en route. I once walked out my back door to see a few crackheads huddled looking at something on the ground outside my fence. They had given a crack rock to an ant and were cheering it on. I took a video of that one right next to them which they didn't seem to care at all about. I found a heroin syringe/needle on the concrete slab for my garbage pickup a week from when I moved into the building. There are drug baggies that litter the neighborhood. These people that hang around don't live in this neighborhood as I found by talking to them. I keep a respectful dialogue with them and ask politely for them to move down the block when I have prospective tenants coming over.

"Either learn to live with it or move!" - worst thread contribution ever, Ray.

Originally posted by @Danny Maller :

@Ray Harrell You are assuming that I am assuming. I've witnessed about 10 drug deals in the alley from my kitchen window on several occasions. I've witnessed about 5 men smoking crack on several occasions and standing there in the alley drifting off into space while the cops are en route. I once walked out my back door to see a few crackheads huddled looking at something on the ground outside my fence. They had given a crack rock to an ant and were cheering it on. I took a video of that one right next to them which they didn't seem to care at all about. I found a heroin syringe/needle on the concrete slab for my garbage pickup a week from when I moved into the building. There are drug baggies that litter the neighborhood. These people that hang around don't live in this neighborhood as I found by talking to them. I keep a respectful dialogue with them and ask politely for them to move down the block when I have prospective tenants coming over.

"Either learn to live with it or move!" - worst thread contribution ever, Ray.

Danny I would move pronto... really .. !!!  this will escalate.. I know you don't want to hear this.. but you have to deal with reality.  

@Danny Maller , looks like a few of us agree. You moved to Humboldt Park, and now you want things to change because you moved there??? Long time residents of neighborhoods absolutely resent people like you. Privilege. Good luck!

@Ray Harrell These people don't live in this neighborhood. They are from around but several blocks away as they've told me. My neighbors, long time residents of this neighborhood which I've become well acquainted with, have all brought up to me their dislike of these people around. I don't see how not wanting people selling drugs next door is considered a negative. You're literally arguing that people should be able to do crack.

Whether they live there or not, they have been coming there long before you got there. They didn't just start coming there when you moved there. They didn't start leaving drug bags and needles after they found out you moved in.

I'm not saying I enjoy neighborhoods like that, but what makes you think that just because YOU finally bought property in the area that things need to suddenly change??

When I bought a property and realized after a few months that it didn't meet my living standards, I chose to continue to rent for another year. Maybe you should consider moving. There are people who will rent who are quite accustomed to those environments.

Sounds to me like you made a bad investment and now you're regretting it. Rent out both units and find a place for you to go rent. And fire your realtor.