We told them we're the wrong people and they don't believe us. How to stay safe?
November 27, 2012 7:21 AM Subscribe
Gang members think someone who owes them money lives at our house. They are wrong and we told them so twice. Then they came back at night and threw a brick through our window. We immediately went to a hotel and have already signed a rental agreement elsewhere. However, I am scared to go pack up the house. Is that rational, and if so, what recourse do we have?
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (25 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
My husband and I have lived at our house a year. We were burglarized earlier this year and installed ADT and four cameras on a separate system. Other than that we have had no issues. Then last Friday before the week of Thanksgiving two high school kids showed up on our security camera ringing the doorbell excessively. It seemed a little weird how much they were ringing it, and that they had cell phones but did not attempt to call whoever they were looking for when no one answered the door. We only noticed the footage because they did not securely close the gate and we saw it was open when we got back. We vaguely wondered if they were casing the house but thought maybe it was just a mistake.
A couple days later two different high school kids came to the door when I was home. They asked for a generic male American name (this will be relevant later) and I said no one by that name lives there. (I asked our landlord and no previous tenants do either). They left. When we got two more high school kids a few days later we got very suspicious; when we went to review the footage to see if it was one of the kids I had spoken to, we saw a third kid on another camera had jumped our fence and peered into the windows while I had spoke to the first two! So we got all the footage and sent it to the police, saying we feared they were trying to see if anyone was home over Thanksgiving. The police told us to call them if they showed up again.
Well last Saturday in the afternoon a high school kid showed up with a middle-aged rough looking guy. My husband and I both answered the door instead of calling the police because we wanted to make it very clear we were home. The adult first attempted to speak to us in a foreign language from the general area of the world he and all the high school students are descended from, and which my husband and I do not know. It is not a common language like Spanish that it might be expected we would know despite being white, but my husband and I do know another entirely different language from that same general region of the world and I know that the gangs of this race do sometimes deal with white people that may speak that language, or they may expect to speak that language. I hate to bring race into it but it's relevant: if they are looking for someone white we are definitely in danger, but if they're looking for someone that shares their ethnicity literally EVERY friend that could help us move would be in danger because nearly all our friends are that ethnicity. :( The guy they are looking for has a generic American male name so there's no way to know.
This guy switched to English and said he was given our address and that he used to be in business with this guy, but the guy bailed on him. So apparently this guy owes him money and he sent at least seven high school kids to our door for a week to shake him down before he showed up in person. That seems pretty serious. We still thought we were either being cased, or that the matter was settled because the guy said, "I guess he gave me a bad address." However, he was adamant that it was our address he was given.
Well, just after midnight a brick was thrown through our bedroom window. When we heard the glass break we thought it was a burglar so we ran at the window screaming, but since no one was there and could not have gotten away that fast, I checked to see what had broken the window and found the brick wrapped up in the curtains. It had a note in gang calligraphy saying to call a person with a name very clearly of the ethnicity the (assumed) gang members all shared.
We called the police, gave them what little footage we had left, and they took the brick. We have security doors that we never opened when speaking to the people who visited. The police think the gang is most likely looking for someone of their own ethnicity and never saw that we were white because of the door. They probably saw me through the windows but it wouldn't be that unusual for the guy to have a white girlfriend so I guess that wasn't enough. The police admitted it's possible they were looking for a white person who spoke theie language, but thinks the whole issue would probably be cleared up if they could plainly see us. Needless to say, I'm not keen on opening our security doors to them ever.
We immediately went to a hotel and signed a rental agreement elsewhere but I am scared to pack. Obviously this guy they're looking for isn't going to call the person on the note: he didn't get the note and lied about his address. It seems unlikely they woild go through all this trouble and give up rather than further escalate things, and they are apparently convinced we're the right people despite not speaking that language and not having that name and having norhing to do with any gangs whatsoever. (No, my husband doesn't have anything to do with it, and yes, I'm 100% sure.) I am scared for our safety, and for the safety of any friends who would help us move. I have already refused their help and explained why I thought they would be in danger.
I have considered getting movers that will pack too, but they are WAY cost prohibitive. Paying the security deposit, first month's rent, hotel, and normal movers will have beyond wiped us out. It's not an option.
Friends have suggested asking the police to escort us, but is it really reasonable to ask them to stick around for normal work hours a few days while we pack? It's a three bedroom house and it just seems like a LOT of time. If we were just running in to grab a few boxes I could wrap my head around it. Is that something we can ask of them and how likely are they to do it? I'm also doubtful because they seem to think if the gang members come by and see we're white everything will be cool, but frankly that's not a risk I'm willing to take and I'm sure as hell not going to open the door so they can try to hurt/kidnap me because they think I'm this dude's girlfriend or something. I'm also not willing to risk that they might be looking for a white guy, or that they may send lackies to just "hurt the guy at [our address]" who wouldn't even know my husband is obviously the wrong guy.
Any advice is helpful, this situation is really scary and I'm not sure if I'm being irrational or not. Do gang members throw bricks through windows and then give up? Because that would be great to know.
(No need for advice dealing with the current landlord; the couple loves us and we love them, and they are 100% sympathetic and not charging us anything to leave.)
I'm in the greater Los Angeles area.