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'Sharpie parties' ruining foreclosed homes

PHOENIX -- Valley realtors are keeping a close eye on a growing crime that involves a destructive flash mob in foreclosed homes.

It all starts with kids hooking up on social media, stocking up on Sharpie pens and wreaking havoc on foreclosed homes, but it goes beyond graffiti. The vandals smash the walls with sledgehammers, tear off doors and pour concrete in the toilets.

"Probably $30,000 to $40,000 in repairs," said Germain Villenueve with Keller Williams Integrity First Realty. "You're talking about having to redo drywall, cabinets being broken, appliances dented."

And that is the destruction police see when they show up. Other times there is damage the naked eye can't see.

"Some people put cement down the toilet and flush it," said Villenueve. "It takes a wile to harden before it hits the main drain."

Villenueve said he has not seen of any of these so-called Sharpie parties in the Valley, but he's aware of what is happening elsewhere.

There have been at least six homes trashed in recent months in California. Teens have also wrecked homes in Texas, Florida and Utah.

About the Author

Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Have covered some of the biggest stories in Arizona including nine of the top 10 largest wildfires in state history. The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. Covered the Yarnell Hill Tragedy in June 2013 that left 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots dead.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges and Lonesome Dove.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, Texas Longhorns, The University of Montana Grizzlies.


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