Living in a building or association means living in a community where residents get to know each other, attend events together and, sometimes even become close friends. In most cases, the people you meet are regular, down-to-earth folks, but as much as you think you know all of your neighbors, you can’t possibly know what’s going on behind every closed door.
Some owners use their units for using, making or selling drugs, while others use them for more lascivious purposes. From drugs to prostitution and everything in between, residents can be engaged in illegal activity inside their own home at any time. But what are the signs of criminal goings-on, and how can boards and residents recognize them without overstepping the bounds of community and invading others' privacy?
Out of Sight, Out of Mind...
“The problem with illegal or criminal activity is that people keep it hidden,” says Mark R. Rosenbaum, a principal at the law firm of Fischel & Kahn, Ltd. in Chicago. “If someone is running a hacking operation on the computer in their dining room, you wouldn’t know that in the ordinary course [of interaction]. If someone is robbing people, they're probably not doing it on-site, so you wouldn’t know about that either. Really, there aren’t many indicators that residents are doing something unless a lot of people are showing up at one apartment to buy drugs, or someone in the building stumbles into evidence.”
It happens everywhere, from New York to California. In November, 2013, professional poker player Vadim Trincher pleaded guilty to running an illegal sports-betting operation out of his New York Trump Tower condo. This wasn’t a penny-ante operation either. The New York Post reported that Trincher’s business catered to gamblers in Russia, the Ukraine and America and he was part of a $100 million gambling ring. Also in 2013, the Washington Post reported on the Mexican drug cartel who has been known to work out of various locations, including condominiums.
Once the board, manager or even the residents get wind that there is some fishy business going on in their building, it obviously needs to be taken care of but by who?