Help! I'm worried about my mom. She has lived in the same house for more than 30 years. Unfortunately, my dad passed, and I just moved out. The problem is that the building next door is filled with drug dealers. We have found needles, lighters, cigarettes and half-empty beers in the shared driveway and in our backyard. There are different cars coming in and out of the parking lot. It's obvious what's happening.
I would call the cops, but I'm scared of retaliation. I've tried asking other neighbors for help, but many are new residents in the country and adamant about not involving the cops, which I understand. I've contacted the landlord, but he doesn't care. I'm scared to leave my mom alone in her house. I've advised her to sell the property, but she refuses because it is her home. What can I do?
Protective Progeny (age 21)
Dear Protective Progeny,
Noisy neighbors can be a nuisance, but this is a potentially dangerous situation. Your mom's safety and well-being come before all else, and she definitely shouldn't have to consider giving up her home because of this situation.
It's great that you understand the new neighbors' hesitancy to involve the authorities, so don't ask them to call the cops for you. Ring your local police department and tell them you would like to make an anonymous tip about possible drug dealing. Let them know your concerns about retaliation, but give them the lowdown. You can also request that they send a patrol by the property regularly. If nothing happens, be persistent and keep calling.
The police should also know that the landlord of the building has been made aware of what's happening. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office website, property owners in Vermont who knowingly rent to drug dealers "may face liability for anyone that may be injured or negatively affected as a result of these activities." I'd be willing to bet that a call from Johnny Law might increase the landlord's care quotient.
In the meantime, I'd recommend installing motion lights that shine on the driveway area and investing in a home security system that includes cameras. Many options are reasonably priced these days, and your mom is worth every penny.
Good luck and God bless,