he guy got jail time. Again, should we be worried about revenge when he gets out? Are we watching too many movies?
January 5, 2011 2:39 AM   Subscribe

Follow-up to this question. The guy got jail time. Again, should we be worried about revenge when he gets out? Are we watching too many movies?

Ok, in summary: neighbor broke into our house, stole a bunch of shit, was extremely stupid and tried to sell it at the pawn shop a few blocks away, got caught and got 120 days jail time. I'm in California.

So this guy's obviously not very smart, he knows where we live, possibly patterns of our schedules, etc. Should we be worried he'll try to plot some kind of revenge?

lease ends on June 1st and I think he gets out on April 1st. I haven't talked to our landlady about trying to move out by then but she's pretty stubborn and I don't think she'll let us. If she doesn't do we have some sort of right since (to us) we believe we actually might be in danger?

I mean we joke about it nervously but we know he's violent (my roommate's heard him beating his girlfriend on more than one occasion). We know he has a warrant out for his arrest in Texas and he's been to jail before (not sure where, in California or Texas) so it's not totally a stretch to think he could possibly hurt one of us and hop borders, parole be damned. He's never had a job and he was living with his father who is also unemployed so it doesn't seem like they have anything to lose.

Does this seem reasonable? Do people actually go out and get revenge on people who put them in jail? I feel like I'm being a little paranoid but the thought of something happening to my boyfriend, my roommate or myself really scares me.

Also, is there anything I can do to find out exactly when he gets out of jail? I spoke with a cop over the phone who asked me if I wanted to make a statement because the guy's trial was going to be later that day. He told me 120 day sentence is probably what will happen but I don't know for sure if that was decided.

I'll be monitoring to answer questions.
posted by ad4pt to Law & Government (32 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not a social worker, or a psychiatrist either, but I take it as a given that a repeat offender's brain isn't working on the normal inhibition mechanisms the rest of us seem to have, and consider them unpredictable and a threat in larger society. A person who makes an "error in judgement" as a young person, and then straightens out, and doesn't re-offend, is deserving of a second chance, but a repeat offender is providing multiple examples of abnormal behavior, that he seemingly can't or won't control. YMMV, with your own moral compass...

I'm also not a lawyer, but if I were you, I'd research that warrant you've mentioned in Texas. Not every state will pursue extradition on every warrant (due to cost, dockets crowding up on small charges, jail space, etc.) but if California has him, and the warrant in Texas is for a felony, you could probably help Texas arrange transfer for prosecution there, at his release on the California term. If you're going to pursue this, do it sooner, rather than later, as it can take the wheels of interstate justice a while to turn, and if all your burglar got was 120 days, he might be out earlier, on "good time," if he keeps his nose clean in jail, given the overcrowding issues in California prisons.
posted by paulsc at 3:10 AM on January 5, 2011

Do people actually go out and get revenge on people who put them in jail?

Revenge? For what? He ripped you off, you reported the theft, and the cops nailed him.

What are you supposed to do? Not report a theft?

People seek revenge when something is personal. How is this personal other than it was stealing your stuff that landed him in jail?

I wouldn't loose any sleep over it.
posted by three blind mice at 3:11 AM on January 5, 2011

Seriously, why are you still in this apartment? This incident happened in October, and it's now January.

You were robbed by the guy downstairs. Your roommate let him in, exposing all of you to the bullshit that comes with the meth crowd. The police can only do so much to protect you.

Your landlady isn't "considering" anything except whether to sell you some swampland in Florida, now that she knows you'll stick around to pay rent despite being frightened out of your mind.

Move now. Fuck the landlady. All your worries about this situation will be over.
posted by Rykey at 3:56 AM on January 5, 2011 [24 favorites]

Was he also rental tenant in the building? Is his girlfriend still in the apartment downstairs? If yes to the first, and no to the second, he's probably not going to be able to cover 4 months rent while in jail.

If he isn't moving back in, your risk is substantially reduced. If he has to travel to where you are to get his revenge, then it's a whole lot less likely to happen.

Beyond that, does the jurisdiction you're in do restraining orders? Are they applicable in this situation? If so, get into court and explain that you know he's violent, know he's entered your place before, know that he knows you (or housemates) were witnesses against him, and apply to have him served with a restraining order.

Finally, nthing Texas.
posted by Ahab at 4:15 AM on January 5, 2011

I really really hate to do this, but here goes. You are right to be concerned. Drug addicts do not behave predictably. It is impossible to know how this person will react. If he still has ties to the area, he might be coming around again. I`d be working on seeing about that Texas warrant, getting her to allow you to leave early, target hardening the place, and considering taking the financial hit of moving and forgoing whatever damage deposit loss you might undergo. You also need to reassess your priorities and decision making. Use your dead-bolt locks, and stop living with morons who let junkies into your residence.

Your landlady sounds like a real piece of work, BTW, I'd be looking into her level of responsibility in allowing that person to live there in the first place. Sounds like his dad was the downstairs tenant, and is still there?

Here is why I am concerned. This summer some obvious drug addicts rented the basement suite in the house across the street from where I live. Within days, break-ins started occurring all around us. I`m talking 1/2 dozen break-ins before week's end. That weekend, my neighbours and I were in on the sidewalk discussing this, and planning a block watch program when 2 of these lowlifes suddenly emerged from behind from the big fence on the side alley and walked by. We had to step off the sidewalk to let them past. We all looked at each other sheepishly wondering how much they had heard.

That morning, at 3 am, my Jeep was firebombed. I'm talking a full-on explosion with flames shooting 20 feet in the air. It was fully-involved immediately. The heat was so intense that it melted the plastic in the flower-boxes on my fence. The trees on the street nearly caught fire. Had we not lived one block from the fire hall, we might have had a real inferno on our hands. As it was, all they could do was keep it from spreading.

The next day, when I got home from the rounds of Police Station, insurance adjuster, car rental place, etc. the girl who lived in the suite above them was moving out. After she got the last of her things in the moving van, she came over and told me that she had heard running feet and the door downstairs slam just as the Jeep exploded, followed by a laughing conversation. She was moving NOW, was not leaving any contact information, and was not willing to discuss this with the arson squad, period. In other words, these miscreants firebombed my Jeep and put the entire block at risk just because they didn't like the idea of us discussing a block watch. Start planning your move, and without that idiot friend of yours.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 4:19 AM on January 5, 2011 [15 favorites]

As someone who needed Askme to tell her "just fucking MOVE" when I had a violent ex living next door... just move. Seriously. It isn't worth the stress, the lack of sleep, the constant looking-over-your-shoulder. If there is any way on earth you can afford to move, do it. If you have to sell furniture, computers, clothes, anything to raise the money to move, do it.

You don't know how this guy thinks. He may have forgotten about you, or he may be planning to come back to your home the day he gets out. You just don't know, and it isn't worth the risk.

I know 8 weeks worth of rent is a lot of money, but from my perspective, it's better to even take out a loan to pay rent on 2 places for 2 months than it is to lie awake, scared.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 4:19 AM on January 5, 2011

You should be able to be able to register a phone number or email with the police to let you know the status of this guy's case, especially since you're the victim. You will then get an automated call letting you know if he's released, etc. In fact, as the victim, you should be getting notifications from the court system every time anything happens and they should notify you of the sentence. I just googled CA Victims' Assistance Services and came up with this page with more info.

You know, even if you don't know for sure about this guy coming back and doing something to you, I'd move anyway. You sound (really rightfully) scared and upset and this is horribly stressful. It's just money. Trust me, it's just money. Your mental health is priceless, as is your physical health. Screw the landlady. Talk to your lawyer friends you mentioned in the last question and get out.
posted by min at 4:48 AM on January 5, 2011

Fuck the landlady. You have a lot of rights as a tenant. Move immediately if you can afford to lose your security deposit. If not, just stop paying rent until you've essentially recouped it. It will probably take longer than that to evict you. I would hope future landlords are sympathetic when you tell them the story about why to had to leave your current landlady high and dry.
posted by supercres at 5:16 AM on January 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

So, the guy is a known criminal, has warrants for his arrest, beats people up, has nothing to lose, leases a place in your building, and is about to come out of jail for robbing your place. Why are you worried about the landlady? Seriously, tell her that she does not provide a safe living environment and move. What are you waiting for?

You've been asking if you should be scared since the first week of October. That tells me that you have been scared for more than 3 months. Aren't you more scared of the felon than you are of the landlady? Because he's coming back, and yes you have the absolute right to be scared.
posted by Houstonian at 5:32 AM on January 5, 2011 [3 favorites]

The more diplomatic solution with your landlady, of course, is to tell her that you will make things very inconvenient for her unless she lets you out of the lease no later than March 1st. Not arson- that would be blackmail. Just non-payment of rent, forcing her to evict you (more of a pain for her, really) or perhaps alerting her other tenants to what's going on.

After you move, alert the other tenants anyway. She sounds terrible.
posted by supercres at 5:44 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Just move.
posted by molecicco at 6:06 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't want to add to your worries, but my understanding is that if he got 120 days, he's likely to serve less than that. So, whatever you decide to do, follow up on min's suggestion about getting some info about release dates out of the police if you can.
posted by Ahab at 6:13 AM on January 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Take what PareidoliaticBoy said to heart. This shit happens. Move.

On a related note, many leases have clauses like "nobody that is not on the lease may stay with you more than three days", if your lease says that then so does your neighbors, go to the owners of the property and explain the situation to them. I hope when you say landlady that you mean "building manager" and not the owner of the building, because then my previous statement would be easy.

Either way, get out.
posted by zombieApoc at 6:20 AM on January 5, 2011

Breaking a lease isn't the end of the world. People do it all the time, for all sorts of reasons. Move.
posted by JoanArkham at 6:24 AM on January 5, 2011

>Do people actually go out and get revenge on people who put them in jail?

Who put him in jail?

-the police?
-the prosecutor?
-the judge?
-the jury?

Other comments notwithstanding, I'd have to wonder if it's reasonable to expect his animosity to be focused 100% on you.
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 6:26 AM on January 5, 2011

If there's a warrant out for him in Texas, isn't there a pretty good chance that they'll extradite him up there at some point?

It's probably worth talking to the police officer you worked with and asking whether they have any insight- I'm not sure I'd necessarily move unless this creep showed up again, but I'd definitely consider purchasing some sort of personal protection- pepper spray, judo classes, etc.
posted by jenkinsEar at 6:42 AM on January 5, 2011

Other comments notwithstanding, I'd have to wonder if it's reasonable to expect his animosity to be focused 100% on you.

No, it's not reasonable. However, there is no evidence that the offender is reasonable, either. If you're not dealing with a reasonable person, then don't worry about being reasonable.

I'd just get out of there for my own sanity and to avoid the risk.
posted by griseus at 6:54 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Move, because even in some kind of best case scenario (guy turns his life around, no further problems ever) you'll still be all kinds of worried, and the neighborhood meth addicts are still the neighborhood meth addicts.

Here is the San Francisco Tenants' Union website. I strongly suggest that you call them now about breaking your lease. Make sure you tell them everything your nutso landlady has said. She's putting her building and her tenants at risk, presumably at some liability to herself, so she seems not to be firing on all cylinders anyway.

I know that housing is expensive in SF--is that a part of why you're reluctant to move? Are you in the perfect location even if you're in a bad house? What is keeping you here other than reluctance to confront your landlady? Believe me, you'll be done with her in a couple of hours once you get this rolling, and you'll feel much better.
posted by Frowner at 7:09 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Have a lawyer contact your landlord, maybe she will cave if she sees you are about to get serious about this.

But no matter what happens, you need to be gone April 1st, if even just for your own peace of mind.
posted by hermitosis at 7:20 AM on January 5, 2011

The few people who are saying "he knows it's not your fault he's in jail therefore he won't come back" have never had to deal with the complete mindfuck that is an addict or dipshit thief next door. Nothing is *their* fault. It's the fault of everyone around them. There is no logic or reason to their actions. They very well may feel it's YOUR fault they're in jail. I don't want to scare you, they may not feel that way at all. But it's certainly not worth waiting around to find out.

I just called the cops a few weeks ago on a guy screaming next to my house that he was going to hit his baby's mom for dropping off his kids with the wrong clothes. By the time the cops got there, he was sitting quietly on his porch and his female companion told the cops there was absolutely no problem, and the cops just believed them and left. He spent the rest of the evening yelling towards my house that I should mind my own fucking business, and making clucking noises (we have backyard chickens). Right, because it's my fault you were threatening someone so loudly I heard it through a windowless wall? But this is the way these fuckers think. I stayed quiet and didn't call the cops again so there could be plausible deniability that I called them in the first place if I ran into him.

Move, move, move.
posted by kpht at 7:33 AM on January 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

Contact the Victim Witness program for the County (attached to the DA's Office in LA County, I believe, or maybe to Probation.) They can give you a lot more information on your rights, assist you with landlord-related issues, provide assistance to pay for a burglar alarm system, etc. You are not without resources as a crime victim. VW is the place to start getting the help that is available.
posted by eleslie at 7:54 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

You mentioned in your October post that you knew lawyers who could send your landlady an appropriately intimidating letter on your behalf—is this still an option? Because you need to get out of there.
posted by Zozo at 8:05 AM on January 5, 2011

What happens if you break your lease? You lose a damage deposit?
posted by KokuRyu at 8:13 AM on January 5, 2011

I'm a little bit shocked that there are so many people who seem to think your concern about him coming back is unwarranted. I mean, they're assuming that this guy is going to think logically and rationally, and nothing we've seen so far makes it look like that's every remotely possible.

Just move out. Leases get broken all the time, and for far worse reasons. You're being totally reasonable.
posted by alleycat01 at 8:28 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

You know what? This always shocks me in Askme - I suppose I am the outlier miscreant here - but I have broken leases and just moved the hell out many, many times and not once has it ever bitten me in the ass at all on any level. Not only that, I've moved out in the middle of the night and I've moved out without paying rent for the last month and yet again, I've never gotten into any kind of trouble. All you're really losing is the chance to use this landlady as a reference. Oh well. Use the one before that as a reference and say you've been living with your parents for a year when you go to rent a new place. Don't pay the rent for March and split at the end of the month. Do, however, clean the place down to the ground and repair any and all damage when you leave. That way they're not even motivated to come after you, which, frankly, they're really not usually anyway. Particularly in big cities, they don't actually care.

Honestly, just go ahead and leave. It's not really worth it to find out if this guy is holding a grudge. He may be, he may not be, it's impossible to say. He may not be holding a grudge and still come back to rob you again because he knows where everything is. Do you need the hassle? You do not. One of the points of renting over owning is that you're mobile. Use your mobility. There are other apartments.
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:36 AM on January 5, 2011 [5 favorites]

I'd move, make sure your forwarding address is a PO Box, and get Google Voice or something to forward your calls to (assuming you have a landline.) Your landlady can get stuffed, and I'd make sure that she doesn't know where your going, esp. if the GF/roomie is still in the apt. I know this all might seem a bit paranoid, but why take the chance?
posted by Ideefixe at 8:36 AM on January 5, 2011

Your last post said he used/sold meth. That alone is enough to make me say move. He's going to get out of jail after at the very least having had his access to it restricted for a few months and will probably hit it hard once he's out - and then all bets are off as far as logic, restraint, self-preservation and reasonable behaviour. And despite the logic that he won't blame you because of course you reported the theft - seeing you or the other residents of the apartment may just click and give him a very convenient target to blame. Move, and move before he gets out.

Keep a copy of the police report and explain the circumstances to any potential landlords, I doubt that anything this one could say could keep you out of a place where you really wanted to live.
posted by lemniskate at 10:23 AM on January 5, 2011

Remind your landlady that landlords have been found to be liable when they don't ameliorate criminal activity and/or violent tenants in their buildings.
posted by rhizome at 11:50 AM on January 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you guys for your answers.

I know it might seem obvious to people MOVE IMMEDIATELY but soon after the break in, the man the guy was living with moved out (the apartment is still empty) and since then we've actually felt pretty safe at our house. There are no more strange people hanging around the street, our neighbors are happier, etc. We only recently found out that he was actually in prison.

Also, maybe because the situation seemed to be so downplayed by the landlady and the authorities, comparatively my reactions seemed a little over the top.

As far as the landlady, this is her only rental property so I assumed she cared that we stayed mainly because of the money, however the apartment where the thief lived has been empty for well over 2 months and she hasn't been showing it at all so I'm not sure what's up with that. I'm also pissed because she let the father of the guy break his lease (obviously he just couldn't afford rent without his drug dealing son) because he said he had to "take care of his son" but she won't let us break ours.

The reason I'm so reluctant to break the lease is mostly because of money, rental history, etc. Frankly, I've never been in this situation before and I just don't know what would happen. Resources online have led me to believe it's a terrible, terrible thing but after reading some of your answers I feel better about it.
posted by ad4pt at 11:51 AM on January 5, 2011

The partment they left is empty, and she's not even showing it...Was he *making* meth in that apartment? It may be contaminated and she may not have the funds to get it cleaned. I wonder if yours is, too, being right next to that one. Maybe you should get it checked. There's no way she could make you stay if it's contaminated by meth.
posted by galadriel at 3:02 PM on January 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

I fully agree with mygothlaundry about the probable lack of consequence for " breaking a lease", BTW. I've never quite understood the huge emphasis Americans put on this, but America seems to have gone way off the rails toward favoring corporate interests in the last couple of decades so I didn't really want to make too many suppositions. However, I've always suspected that what she says is likely the case.

Given the new info that your landlord allowed the tenants who actually created this situation to escape without any consequence, it's abundantly clear that any tiny moral obligation I might have said you owed her is therefor effectively canceled. In fact, had you the time, energy, and resources, you could probably make a case for liability for damages against her. Don't bother though, find out when this nightmare neighbor hits the streets, and plan to be gone.

As for the situation being downplayed by the landlady and the cops; well, that's to be expected. They do not have your interests foremost in theirs minds. The chances of some sort of revenge attempt are small, but it's still not worth it. Just to make things clear, this is the mentality of the person you're dealing with. This is the tenant of the house on fire in the background. If a meth lab is found there, the owner's insurance company will likely fight liability. This drug is no joke. Don't fuck with it.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 6:25 PM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Based on what you've written here, I wouldn't be terribly worried about this guy coming back and taking revenge. Most offenders will seek out places where they have some sort of social/ family network when they leave prison. If this guy was relatively isolated from your neighbors and doesn't have family in the area, then it's very unlikely that he will come back to the area and therefore significantly less likely that he will bother to come looking for you.

It would be more of a concern if he'd been living in the neighborhood over the long term or hung out with people who lived nearby and could be expected to return to your neighborhood when he was released. While he may be irrational and violent, opportunity and convenience usually play a role in decisions to commit crime (witness robbing the neighbors and going to the pawn shop down the street), and if it isn't easy for him to return, it's unlikely that he'll do so.

I would highly doubt that he was making meth in the apartment where his parents lived. From what I understand, the process reeks and many of the byproducts are toxic, so it would be really hard (impossible) to hide it from people living in the same apartment.

I would move because the landlady seems pretty useless, though. It's obvious that she doesn't care much about the safety of her tenants. If she let this guy in, who knows the next person who might end up being your neighbor. I've broken leases for less reason in the past and none of my landlords have made an issue of it.
posted by _cave at 4:18 PM on January 6, 2011

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