Dangerous neighbor harassing my family. What can I do?
February 18, 2014 11:15 AM Subscribe
Dangerous neighbor harassing my family. What can I do? This has been going on for almost 15 years now, but yesterday the problem resurfaced. My family (mother, sister and her two young children) live next door to a violent man.
posted by Basque13 to Human Relations (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
He did time in jail years ago. Upon his release, he started working occassionally (gardening, plumbing, etc.) at our spinster neighbor's house. One day he moved in with our neighbor (formerly friend of my family) and for a few months things were ok with us. Then one day he approached my grandmother on the street and verbally assaulted her, demanding that she got rid of her cat because, in his view, the animal had ruined his garden. In order to appease him, my grandmother sent the cat to another house. A few months later, said neighbor grabbed my (then 12 year old) brother by the arm when he was walking back home from school and threatened him. He said that my brother should stop making noise in the afternoons while my neighbor was sleeping, or otherwise he would regret it. My brother was a quiet boy, very unlikely to produce noises which could be considered disruptive. A couple of weeks after that he approached my mother and told her-in his characteristic bullying style-to have a tree in our garden removed because it was-in his opinion-a fire hazard. The tree looked fine and healthy, but just in case, my mother called the relevant city authority to have the tree checked. They sent an engineer who had a look at the tree, said it was perfectly safe and consequently there was no need to remove it. There were a couple of other similar incidents throughout the years. In addition, we often heard rowdy exchanges of insults between this neighbor and apparent unsatisfied angry clients (he has a makeshift bike repair garage in his house), and at least with one woman who screamed and threatened to have him locked up.
Two years ago my then 6 year old niece was playing with a friend in the garden, the neighbor suddenly emerged from across the hedge and verbally abused the two girls, threatening "to teach them a lesson if they didn´t learn to behave themselves and be quiet". An adult friend of the family tried to intervene and this neighbor threatened to punch him. That time my sister went to the police and filed a report. The cops offered to go and talk to the neighbor, but my sister thought that would escalate the conflict and declined the offer.
I am visiting my family for a few days, I live and work in another state. Yesterday as I was leaving home, the neighbor approached me and told me his patience was running short on the tree affair, that it could collapse at any minute and he would not tolerate that. I told him the matter had already been assessed by a specialist sent by the local authorities, and that the tree was fine. He got very upset by my reply and started yelling "Those assholes don't know shit!", I turned round and left him yelling alone.
I'm not sure how to proceed. I am tempted to confront him and tell him that a report has been filed with the police concerning the threat against my niece, and that he'd better stop messing with my family if he doesn't want to go to jail again. On the other hand, I know that given the violent nature of this person, his reaction may be unpredictable and unpleasant, which is of special concern as I am leaving the state in a few days and won't be here to help if things get nasty.
What can I do to make my family safer?