Foreclosures in New York’s Queens borough are leaving behind abandoned homes that become prime targets for thieves and havens for squatters, a new report by the advocacy group ACORN shows, the New York Daily News reports. “It is common sense that foreclosure and crime go together,” said New York State ACORN President Pat Boone. “Thousands of families across New York have lost their homes to foreclosure. In turn, their communities have lost neighbors who care for their homes and help keep an eye on everyone’s safety.”
Researchers compared the number of foreclosure notices in Queens to official statistics for felonies such as murders, robberies, burglaries and auto thefts. High-foreclosure neighborhoods in Queens had an average 424 more incidents than low-foreclosure areas in 2008 – a jump of nearly 150 percent since 2006, the report found. Not only are abandoned homes looted, but “the increasing displacement of homeowners leaves neighborhoods without the deterrent presence of concerned neighbors’ watchful eyes” to help protect other houses, the study says. Two serial rapists who terrorized an area of the borough last summer viciously attacked women more than a dozen times in a vacant church and other abandoned buildings. Whether the neighborhoods were home to wealthy or poor families didn’t affect the numbers in the study.