Nation of Squatters

Michael Medvedev was getting ready to leave his mother’s upscale Manhattan apartment after a brief search. He hadn’t heard from his mom, Nadia Vitel, in two days. She’d gone to the unit which had been vacant for a couple of months to prepare it for a family friend, then vanished.   

In a closet near the front door, Michael found a duffle bag with a foot sticking out. Two squatters had beaten his mother to death and stashed her remains there. Police caught them after they crashed her Lexus.   

Squatting is on the rise across America. It is a particularly enraging form of anarcho-tyranny. Rightful homeowners often find themselves bound tighter by the law than the thieves, who enjoy legal protections and know it.    

See the case of Adele Andaloro, who was arrested after trying to remove squatters from the home she inherited from her parents in Queens.   

Andaloro was getting ready to sell when she noticed someone had moved in and changed the locks. In New York, squatters have rights after 30 days.   

“By the time someone does their investigation, their work, and their job, it will be over 30 days, and this man will have stolen my home,” Andaloro told ABC 7.   

A news crew accompanied Andaloro to the house. She found all her furniture and two men sleeping inside. Police escorted them from the property as Andaloro had the locks changed. About 10 minutes later, a man named Brian Rodriguez, who claimed to be leasing the place, arrived and violently forced his way through the front door—and through Andaloro.    

The man, clearly a veteran of this hustle, quickly called the police. When they arrived, he could not prove that the home was really his. Andaloro, in contrast, was armed with the property deed.   

Police then arrested her for unlawful eviction.    

As cops stuffed her into the back of a cruiser, Rodriguez explained to the news crew that people like Andaloro must abide by a process.   

“There’s rules to this shit,” he said. “You got to go to court and send me to civil court.” Rodriguez knows as well as Andaloro that time favors him in that battle.   

Indeed, there is a corner of the internet that provides squatters with the information they need to lawfully steal your home. On TikTok, influencer Leonel Moreno encouraged illegal immigrants to seize American property this way. Moreno is a Venezuelan national who illegally entered the U.S. in 2022 and currently lives in Ohio, where he was arrested last Friday by a U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Fugitive Operations team.  

In one viral video, a wild-eyed Moreno informs his 500,000 followers in Spanish that he’s discovered “a law that says that if a house is not inhabited, we can seize it.” Moreno says his next line of business would be “invading” unoccupied homes, encouraging his followers to do the same.   

In Atlanta, squatting has grown so out of control that residents are reluctant to even go on vacation. According to the National Rental Home Council, 1,200 homes have been taken over across the city. One was converted into an illegal strip club by squatters. Other houses have been used to stash guns and drugs. 

Property rights, like privacy, are integral to freedom. A state in which people are essentially free to plunder the property of their neighbors is in a state of war. And when the legal system tips the scales of justice in favor of the pillagers, it becomes a kind of institutionalized tyranny. 

But some people, at least, are doing something about it.  

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis just signed a law eliminating “squatter’s rights” in Florida. It also enhances penalties for offenders and empowers cops to drag them—instead of their victims—off the property.  

“You are not going to be able to commandeer somebody’s private property and expect to get away with it. We are in the state of Florida ending the squatter scam once and for all,” DeSantis said during a press conference. 

Legislation like this seems a commonsense thing. But these are times of uncommon crime and complicity by the political class.

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