Monday, 11 October 2010

Putting a new spin on "bank robbery"

Via Ann Arky, who tips her own hat to Politics in the Zeros, I today came across this truly astounding story from the States;
In yet another sign that the foreclosure crisis in the US may be getting out of hand, a Florida woman has gone to the press about having her home broken into -- by an agent of her mortgage bank.

Nancy Jacobini of Orange County, Florida, says she was three months behind on her mortgage payments, but not in foreclosure, when she heard an intruder breaking into her home. 

Panicked, she called 911 and spent 10 nervous minutes on the phone with a dispatcher only to discover that the intruder was an agent of her mortgage company, JPMorganChase, who had come to change the locks on her home.

"Someone is breaking ... somebody broke into my house!" a frightened Jacobini can be heard saying on a 911 tape obtained by WTFV channel 9 in Jacksonville.
Now, I'm hardly a legal expert, but I know for a fact that this was an illegal act not only on the part of the burglar, but also the bank that hired them.

In Britain, even with a repossession order, bailiffs cannot force entry into your home. They must be invited or go through an open door or window. In America, I don't know if that same protection applies. But certainly, when a home is not in foreclosure and there is no possession order, they have no right to be there.

As Politics in the Zeros comments, "it’s getting so hard to tell the difference between organized crime and bankers now."

The solution recommended by Tickerguy is to "buy guns." He points out that in such a situation, many Americans "have every right under the law to stop him, up to and including the use of deadly force." I'm not sure I'd go that far, but there certainly is a case for greater community self-defence.

Groups such as Neighbourhood Watch are nothing more than gatherings of curtain twitchers, thinking they can make a community safer by putting stickers on lamp posts or acting as killjoys towards local kids. But there is no reason that people couldn't organise their neighbourhood along more radical lines, resisting thugs and repelling burglars without treating all kids as villains or getting embroiled in "keeping up with the Joneses" nonsense. Likewise, we need to advocate a defence of posession rather than or private property, recognising that defending your home and attacking private property are not oppositional acts but both a part of working class self-defence.
If we've reached the point where banks are willing to hire people to break into your home before they can lawfully repossess it, then this argument only becomes more urgent.