Foreclosed homes in California are being vandalized by “sharpie partiers”, according to reports by CBS news. These people, which the media has tied to Occupy Wall Street, have broken into boarded-up homes and, well, making their mark.
Five years into the US foreclosure crisis, Sharpie parties are a new form of protest, becoming the latest iteration of collective home-trashing spurred by social media and the Occupy Wall Street movement.
At least six Sharpie parties were reported in one California county in recent months, where invitations posted online drew scores to foreclosed homes.
The partygoers are handed Sharpie pens on arrival by their hosts and told to write on walls, which then usually turns to a full on vandalism act that involves smashing windows and breaking furnitures.
This Calfornia spree follows a similar outbreak earlier this year in Texas, Florida and Utah. This is perhaps growing into a naitonal movement.
Anna Hazel, an investigator in the Merced district attorney’s office in central California, told CBS the use of social media has made organizing these parties much easier and effective.
Cops are investigating by taking the social media route as well. A recent party that was advertised on Facebook was tracked by cops on the network.
“We obtained search warrants for Facebook accounts,” Hazel said. “It was very useful to us to get access to the social networks. They posted pictures of the party. They were brazen about it.”
Three men, aged 21, 24 and 30, were arrested on suspicion of felony vandalism, burglary and conspiracy. One of them was the son of the evicted former owner.
“The Sharpie party is the newest twist here,” said Larry Morse, the district attorney in Merced County, California. He’s been investigating for six mnonths.
Andy Krotic, a Californian realtor, told AOL Real Estate that “It’s a growing fad among young people, especially the Twitter crowd. They throw a big party, everyone gets a Sharpie, and they are invited to write on the walls and spray paint.”
Banks that own the foreclosed homes are reluctant to pursue the perpetrators, Krotic says, because they don’t have the resources to hunt down the miscreants. Even if they’re caught, the unwanted publicity from their prosecution would likely incite more parties.
“Usually they leave the damage and just drop the price,” he added.