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City Should Do More To Keep People Out Of Homes Deemed ‘Not To Be Occupied’

It will be up to a judge to decide if a former Jamestown employee is guilty wedging a knife in a couch and spiking a juice bottle with glass cleaner inside a vacant property.

If the former employee is found guilty he should be punished. But the question that lingers after reading the accusatory instruments obtained recently by The Post-Journal is what would drive someone to take such actions?

The property in question was vacant and part of the city’s 19-a Homeownership Program. As such there should have been no need for a city official to be in and out of the property on a regular basis, yet there was apparently someone inside the house on a regular basis who shouldn’t have been there. This was a situation that escalated too far and likely could have been prevented by a simple measure — more secure doors and windows on a vacant house.

Anyone involved in public safety or code enforcement in Jamestown knows declaring a house not to be occupied doesn’t mean much. It’s far too easy for squatters or the homeless to make their way into a vacant property in the city, creating nuisances for neighbors and safety issues for city police officers and firefighters.

Police officers often get frustrated dealing with people accused of minor crimes over and over and over again, the same frustration hits those who deal with the same code enforcement issue over and over and over again. The frustration is understandable. Too many properties with orange “Do Not Occupy” signs are far too easy to get into, with those orange signs serving as an open sign for squatters, the homeless or drug dealers. In our opinion, it’s time for the city to investigate better ways of securing vacant properties.

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