Private Investigations and Personal Security/help for my disabled mother

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My name is Melanie. I live in Coos Bay Oregon with my disabled mother. We purchased a house together. When we bought the house we were told it was a shared driveway and that we had two parking spaces in the back. Well we have now been through 4 years of hell. There have been 3 sets of neighbors who have bought and sold the house next door to people they know. Ever time someone moves in they wait untill I am at work and verbally harrass my mother every time she steps out our door. They scream obsinaties at her and make her afraid to leave the house. They all say they own the whole driveway and keep trying to tell us we can't use it.  They have blocked us in on numerous occassions. We live 24 miles out of town and I worry my mother may have an emergancy and she won't be able to get out. Most recently the newest neighbors put a no tresspassing sign on our property trying to claim it is thier property. My mother went out and tried to get them to keep thier signs on theier own property and an verbal argument ensued. During which the neighboe phiscally shoved my mother. She almost fell down. Luckly she is ok. But I believe if he had hurt her he would have left her where she lay. She would have been on the ground for a good 6 hrs till I got home to save her. We are living in a daily state of fear. There were no eyewitnesses so the sheriffs would not do any thing. We got a special loan throught the state of oregon because my mother is disabled and we are low income, so we can not move out and sell our house foer a perscibed number of years. Our american dream of ownig a house and feeling secure is shatterd. I don't know how to get any help. My mother has called every offical she can think of hoping to get the property situation resolved hoping that would end the harrassment. But to no avail. Now we are also worried about our sanity and violence coming from the neighbors. We know thet are growing illegal drugs in thier back house, but the sheriff says they have a medical card to do this legally. I believe they are on some other type of drugs to that makes them act this way. They seem to take these drugs they are growing and one of the family members will leave for a couple of days. Maybe they are taking them across the state borader into washington to thier other son to sell. I guess that is irrelevent sorry. How do I protect my mother when I have to be in town to make our house payments and can not be home to protect her?

         Melanie

Answer
Melanie,
Property disputes and disagreements with neighbors are among the most difficult of situations to resolve.  Many people move to get away from situations like that, so you might consider that step when you have lived there the minimum number of years you have to.

You can start by educating yourself about all applicable laws.  Any public librarian can help you find information about laws regarding stalking, harassment, assault, and anything else that might be relevant.  Once you know what the laws are, it is easier to talk to the police about enforcing them.

Talk to someone in your town hall about the land, and whether there is an easement on either property for use of the driveway.  You might have to pay for a survey of the land to determine the exact boundary lines, and that could result in something different from what you were originally told.

As to personal safety, if pepper spray is legal in your state you could give your mother pepper spray (and carry some yourself).  A cell phone with a speed dial button programmed to call 911 is also a very useful safety device.

Your mother should never talk to those folks alone.  In fact, she should try to avoid going out when they are outside.  

If it is legal where you live, you might get an inexpensive tape recorder or video recorder to record their antics and threats.  That might make the police take more notice.

It will be extremely important for both you and your mother not to do anything that might be viewed as causing or escalating a confrontation.  If you engage in a verbal argument that leads to the use of pepper spray instead of withdrawing to the safety of your home, you could be charged with assault or some other crime.  Don't put yourself or your mother in danger of being arrested.  Stay out of the way of the neighbors as much as possible, avoid contact with them, and don't get into any agruments.  You and your mother will be safer if you can manage to have no contact with those folks.

I hope you and your mother stay safe until you can get out of there.  - Lyn  

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Lyn Bates

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Are you being stalked? I can help evaluate the amount of danger you are in, and can provide very specific suggestions for increasing your safety, and for managing your situation. As a founding member and the current Vice President of AWARE (a volunteer, nonprofit organization), I have helped thousands of women learn to protect themselves from crimes ranging from minor harassment to serious assault. I am currently writing a book on safety for stalking victims. I have lectured at annual training meetings of the American Society of Law Enforcement Training, Women in Federal Law Enforcement, the International Women Police Association, the American Society of Criminology, and the American Women`s Self-Defense Association. In 1997, the American Tactical Shooting Association gave me their annual Tactical Advocate Award for teaching and writing.

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