af66

Ongoing neighbor harassment - advice on how to proceed

4 posts in this topic

First time poster. Thank you for taking the time to read this. Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated. I apologize for the length, but I wanted to make sure I got everything in.
We have had boundary issues with our neighbors for years, to the point that we felt it best to not have any contact with them permanently (if they continued their confrontational behavior). To put it briefly, we would much rather avoid confrontation and ignore them but they seem to be ones who like to "push buttons" and annoy whenever possible. We have been ignoring them but recent events have made it necessary for law enforcement intervention...
Basically about 3 years ago, I installed a home security system in our house with 6 cameras..3 pointed inside the house and 3 outside. There have been isolated cases of theft and vandalism over the years and we usually put out holiday decorations, so it was a matter of security for us. Borrowing the idea from ADT, I also erected a sign in my front yard advertising that our property was being monitored, thinking that would be a deterrent for potential vandals. Well, within a week after putting the sign out, the neighbors next door embarked on a horn honking, loud music, dog barking campaign designed to (i guess) harass and annoy us every time we are outside or have our windows open. The horn honking is excessive and goes beyond just a single beep..usually it is multiple beeps when locking the car door, or setting off their car alarm at random times during the day, or once we are known to be outside, sending the dogs out to bark at us with no intervention to quiet the dogs down (mind you, we have witnessed visitors to their house arrive..the dogs start to bark and they are immediately hushed). Since the cameras installed were designed to be security cameras, they were not sound equipped. Once the harassment began, I purchased 2 DVR cameras with sound capabilities and positioned them so that they would record the horn honking and other transgressions against us. 
After 2 months of the horn honking, we called the State Police and told them what was going on and the evidence recorded to support our claim. They sent a trooper to their house and asked if the accusation could be verified. They denied it, claiming they were only locking their car doors (despite numerous bits of evidence to the contrary). The trooper informed both sides to avoid contact with each other and told them to keep the noise down (Note: at that time, the trooper did not review the recorded evidence only a written log of the activities that transpired up to that point).
 

The next morning and continuing for the next 6 or so months, the horn honking was replaced by dog barking..usually once we were known to be outside or during periods where our windows nearest the property line were open. In the occurrences where we were inside, there was nothing around that would trigger a dog barking in our direction (no animal person outside, etc.) and in the case where we were outside, it was usually after we made a noise or when there was evidence we were outside, the door would open and the dogs would immediately make a beeline in our direction, as if they knew we were there. Once there, the dogs were allowed to bark for an excessive period of time. Animal control was contacted and they paid the neighbors a visit, and again, they denied creating the racket. Ironically, though, after the visit, the dog barking greatly subsided. However, after that, they moved onto the horn honking again and incorporating setting off their car alarm more frequently than usual. once, our DVR cameras actually caught the adult female walking out to her car..past it...then the car alarm going off for 30 seconds with no attempts to silence it (I should mention here that these DVR cameras do not point at their house or do not interfere with their privacy. They are directed towards their property angled to their front yard and to the street, away from their house). After it was set off one morning at 6:00am, I contacted the police again who called the adult male resident who denied any sort of intentional noise. Again, he was told to keep the noise down.


After a brief break (trying to lay low?), they began using their car keyfobs to excessively lock and unlock their car. In some cases, the "chirp" or "horn" would be repeated 4 or 5 times beyond the normal single sound. They would also repeatedly lock the car once inside for a while if it was known we were outside. I spoke to my attorney who said we should report each incident to the police beyond a single horn honk or single chirp. I wanted to, but also felt that I would be inconveniencing them by calling daily for this behavior and I also didn't want it to appear as if I was the neighborhood complainer every time somebody sneezed. However, after an excessive horn episode, I went back to the police and filed a complaint for 2nd degree harassment under NYS Penal Code 240.26 (example 3). I believe intent has been shown since the police have it documented on the report that they twice denied making any unnecessary noise beyond locking their car doors and that the noise continued after they were told to keep it down. I also submitted 11 DVD's worth of evidence and a notebook log documenting each incident and time and date stamping it to the camera reference. This was back in September. As of December 29th, we've heard nothing back. After talking to a couple people in law enforcement channels with some knowledge of the criminal proceedings in cases like this, I need to come to the realization that these types of complaints may not demand the full attention of law enforcement due to the nature of the case and staffing limitations/time invested in investigating. It may be more of a civil issue, I am told. They still have the evidence I submitted, but they may or may not be investigating it.

 

So here are my questions...1) based on what is documented here and the evidence obtained over the years, would this be a case of harassment that could be brought into a civil court?  
2) Should there be anything I should have done differently? I have the cameras..the video, the sound, and the documentation. We also have copies of both police reports and the report from animal control where their answers of denial contradict the actions heard on the camera recordings. Like I mentioned, I believe that shows intent to harass.

3) Historically, would documented evidence in the form of written timelines of occurrences, police reports, an unanswered cease and desist letter and video and audio evidence of the transgressions be enough to substantiate my argument, or will I need more?
 

Moving, while a solution, is out of the question..I don't feel that 2 law abiding people should have to be chased from their house by a family bent on creating an annoyance through harassing behavior. I would like it handled through the courts, if possible.

Thanks so much again for taking the time to read this.

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It truly sounds like a your living a nightmare. I'm so sorry for you having to endure the likes of these idiots. It sounds as though they don't have much of a life if they can take so much time to bother you. I think you've done everything right. As far the Police investigating this I doubt it will be a priority to them. They are in possession of the evidence and unless you continue to be pro-active I don't think it will amount to much. Again, I'm so sorry for your living situation. If moving is not an option I don't know what to tell you. Life is too short to be dealing with this type of bullshit.

 

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af66,

I was curious to know what came of your issues with your neighbor since I too am suffering ongoing issues with my neighbor and am considering a lawsuit to have them hopefully stop the annoyance.

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Good luck and I'm sorry you have to go through these annoyances. I think at this point with the way my State laws are set up, a lawsuit is the only course of action for me as I'm sure you are realizing with your own case. We have not gotten to that point yet..the only positive at this point is it appears the daughter's boyfriend who was an active participant isn't around anymore so there's one less person to have to deal with...however, the mother and daughter are still active especially if I happen to be working outside and make any noise with a saw or lawn trimmer or broom doing outside projects. The general response I'm getting is that a civil lawsuit is the only and best recourse. Please let me know how you make out.

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