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''Initial Secure''

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I know of someone who works with a bank (his exact job there, I do not know), and one of the things he does is ''initial secure.'' Basically, what he does is go to a house that the bank is foreclosing on, while the house is empty, and put new locks on the doors. This requires him to get into a house through a window, because the doors would usually be locked. Anyway, he's in the house, completely empty. Above changing locks, he also ''loots'' the house of any valuables he finds to keep for himself. Usually, all these items are dubbed as ''debris'' by the bank, and put in a landfill. At the point when he loots the items, it is technically still owned by the citizens who owned the house.

Even if he did not steal these items, the homeowners would never see them again, and they'd just be put in a landfill instead. Is looting these items unethical? I can't think of any way someone is harmed by this.

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If someone's house is being foreclosed, they can't have a chance to pick up their valuables before they go?

I would assume people could, so the guy I know would probably only get to take things they decided to leave in the house. But anything the homeowners don't take with them before the initial security, they'll never see again.

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Even if he did not steal these items, the homeowners would never see them again, and they'd just be put in a landfill instead. Is looting these items unethical? I can't think of any way someone is harmed by this.

Well first off, whether or not someone else is harmed by this is not the standard of whether it's right or wrong. Someone squatting on land owned by someone else is wrong, even if the owner never finds out and is not harmed in any way. So if someone's property rights are being violated, that would make it immoral. However, it sounds like in this case the people have relinquished their claim to the stuff by leaving it behind, similar to people leaving crap out on the curb to be taken away by the garbage truck or whomever wants it. They just figured disposing of the stuff would be the bank's problem.

What I'd be concerned about is whether this activity of your friend's is something that his boss would object to, if he found out about it. If taking this stuff for himself is something that he's not supposed to be doing from the perspective of his employer, than he is abusing his position and taking advantage of his boss's ignorance. That would be immoral.

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Well first off, whether or not someone else is harmed by this is not the standard of whether it's right or wrong. Someone squatting on land owned by someone else is wrong, even if the owner never finds out and is not harmed in any way. So if someone's property rights are being violated, that would make it immoral. However, it sounds like in this case the people have relinquished their claim to the stuff by leaving it behind, similar to people leaving crap out on the curb to be taken away by the garbage truck or whomever wants it. They just figured disposing of the stuff would be the bank's problem.

Yes, sorry, that's what I meant; I don't see why the homeowners would have the right to these items, if they'd have no way of ever retrieving them (since by the time he leaves the house will be locked up).

What I'd be concerned about is whether this activity of your friend's is something that his boss would object to, if he found out about it. If taking this stuff for himself is something that he's not supposed to be doing from the perspective of his employer, than he is abusing his position and taking advantage of his boss's ignorance. That would be immoral.

I actually just learned that he works at a private business started by his father, who (as I understand) has no problem with this.

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I know of someone who works with a bank (his exact job there, I do not know), and one of the things he does is ''initial secure.'' Basically, what he does is go to a house that the bank is foreclosing on, while the house is empty, and put new locks on the doors. This requires him to get into a house through a window, because the doors would usually be locked. Anyway, he's in the house, completely empty. Above changing locks, he also ''loots'' the house of any valuables he finds to keep for himself. Usually, all these items are dubbed as ''debris'' by the bank, and put in a landfill. At the point when he loots the items, it is technically still owned by the citizens who owned the house.

Even if he did not steal these items, the homeowners would never see them again, and they'd just be put in a landfill instead. Is looting these items unethical? I can't think of any way someone is harmed by this.

Are you kidding me? A good man does not take or accept the unearned. Context is everything, but in this context it reeks of theft.

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At the point when he loots the items, it is technically still owned by the citizens who owned the house.

I don't see how that can be accurate. The house is now property of the bank (or the mortgage holder), which is the justification for changing the locks as the form of the taking possession by the new owner. Property inside is abandoned if it is not a part of the valuation of the house (appliances are sometimes part of the value of the house, sometimes not). Abandoned property is fair game, finder's keepers.

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O.K. let me set this straight. My father is a realtor and he does this same work for banks, and then he gets to list the properties. First off, before a house is foreclosed, the the inhabitant usually is warned for months prior to the bank seizing possession. When the bank does take possession, it is because an individual failed to uphold a contractual agreement. This is problematic in itself, but what is more problematic is the number of people that have simply walked away from their homes allowed them to be foreclosed even though they could afford to keep this contractual agreement. Anyways, when the bank takes possession, then my father, or your friend, goes and changes the locks. At this point, the person has been told and warned that the bank will take possession of the property. They have also been told to get out with their belongings. I am not sure if it is a matter of law or part of the contractual agreement, but the possessions in the property become the property of the bank.

As far as your friend and my father taking items, this is acceptable. My father has even been given permission from the banks to do this. At first, he was not quite sure about this practice when his friends in the business told him that it was alright, so he actually asked the bank. They told him that he could take what he wants. In actuality, the things that he has really taken are some cool neon beer signs from foreclosed bars, but the point is that taking property is not necessarily wrong. At least in my fathers case it is not since he asked for permission. All banks are different and the banks that your friend works for may view this differently. Technically, it is the banks property until the bank decides to dispose of it. Even if the bank will just throw it in the trash, it is their right to chose to do so with their property.

Also this being said, there may still be a question of ownership. I stated that typically a person is warned well in advance before a foreclosure and at the time that the bank takes possession, the person has missed, usually, many months worth of payments. However, there have been instances of clerical errors in which banks have wrongly seized houses without notice or have seized houses of individuals who are current on their mortgages. These instances are few and far between, but they have happened and have led to destruction of personal property. But with these few exceptions, the banks don't wrongly change the locks prior to legally being allowed to seize a property. If anything, they typically end up waiting longer than necessary to seize a property.

Edited by Nigel
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Also this being said, there may still be a question of ownership. I stated that typically a person is warned well in advance before a foreclosure and at the time that the bank takes possession, the person has missed, usually, many months worth of payments. However, there have been instances of clerical errors in which banks have wrongly seized houses without notice or have seized houses of individuals who are current on their mortgages. These instances are few and far between, but they have happened and have led to destruction of personal property. But with these few exceptions, the banks don't wrongly change the locks prior to legally being allowed to seize a property. If anything, they typically end up waiting longer than necessary to seize a property.

Not directly relevant to the issue of taking property from a foreclosed house (which it sounds to me ought properly be considered abandoned property), part of the problem is that the foreclosure process is so broken. The way it is now, banks have been foreclosing like crazy without being able to prove that they actually own the debt in question. No one should be able to foreclose on a house unless they can present the note or other relevant loan paperwork. Many banks are not doing so. I think if owners stand up for themselves in this regard it will bite the banks in the ass for reselling their debt so many times they no longer have any idea who owns it. Maybe they'll learn. We can only hope...

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