Back around the turn of the last century, there was con man named George C. Parker, who claimed he was selling New York landmarks like the Brooklyn Bridge to his victims, a scheme that apparently worked because people were stupider back then. (He's where we get the phrase "and if you believe that, I've got a bridge to sell you.")He wasn't the only criminal in history to specialize in property fraud on a massive scale. In Montreal in 1936, police were tricked into helping some clever thieves when someone pretending to be a building owner asked them to supervise the demolition of a large residential building by 500 "unemployed," as the New York Times referred to them. Three of the unemployed, wound up being arrested when the real owner clued the police into the fact that they were supervising a heist.In 2006, a Pennsylvania woman must have been trying for some similar sort of long con when she tried to trade some bad checks for a house. This did not work, because people are usually pretty cautious when it comes to giant real estate transactions.
Casey Friday used to blog a lot about his "Tiny House," which is exactly what it sounds like—it's a cheap living space that's small and on wheels. Modest though it was, someone evidently coveted Friday's diminutive domicile and, last December, stole it. (Luckily, it was recovered a few days later in fine condition, though Friday and his wife eventually decided not to live in it.)Friday's tiny house theft seems to be the first of its kind, but there were tiny homes long before there was a Tiny House movement. In 1990, a 14-by-20 cottage in Mississippi was lifted onto blocks in preparation for delivery. But then some extremely clever crooks trucked the house away—and even used an old permit to convince the police to give them an escort out of town, according to an AP story.
One of the most brazen house thefts in history was documented in a 1890 New York Times story titled "A House Stolen by Italians." That year, on July 20, "the greater part of the old Washoe Tool Works" in Newark was stolen. How did that happen? As the Times reported, in the middle of the afternoon, "A large crowd of Italians gathered at the old building, which had been deserted for several years, and began tearing it down." This went on for two hours, and then "Police Captain McManus learned what was going on and he sent a couple of officers to the place. When questioned, the Italians could give no reason for their acts."
Many buildings that get housenapped were abandoned or neglected long before they were stolen.Take the case of John Thoms, which occurred back in 1981 near Spokane, Washington, and was written about in an article titled, "Man Really Burned Up to Find House Missing." When Thoms discovered his vacation home had burned down after visiting it for the first time in two years, he launched an investigation personally and and uncovered what he believed to be a conspiracy. Apparently, some kids from the area had made it a habit of breaking in to dick around inside it, and local officials had failed to extinguish the fire, file a report, or notify Thoms that his house had burned down—proof, Thoms thought, that the were trying to protect the kids from prosecution.
They didn't steal the house so much as they slowly gutted it until it fell apart. "They cut whatever they could with a blowtorch and left a pile of gravel behind," he said. As for the corn, another neighbor in that impoverished village notified Pascali that he wanted to plant corn on the vacant lot, and did so when Pascali didn't specifically forbid it."I'm lucky," said Pascali, "because I live in Bucharest and have two houses—I have all I need."Follow Mike Pearl on Twitter.
The house was broken into before in 1996. Back then, they stole the fridge with everything that was in it. I look at the people living in that village and see that they don't have jobs—poverty is very high there. The house is in the village but not in the middle of it, and the neighbors aren't so close.