The Real Deal Miami

Down to studs: Stripping foreclosed homes catching on in Florida, but police’s hands are tied

December 23, 2009 01:33PM

The national foreclosure crisis has triggered a federal investigation of the practice of homeowners stripping out fixtures and appliances from their distressed properties before lenders take possession. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has already been making arrests in Arizona after finding home strippers on Craigslist, the online marketplace, but in Florida and many other states, there is nothing in the legal code specifically prohibiting the practice, and police are limited in what they can do. Mortgage contracts do forbid this kind of behavior, but violating those contracts constitutes a civil, rather than a criminal, offense. Lenders can come after homeowners in court, but that can prove expensive, especially relative to what they stand to gain.