Sunday, February 19, 2012

'All Cash' Homebuyer Loses Priceless Family Heirlooms To Bankster's Trash-Out Contractor; Cops On Refusal To Take Crime Report: 'It's A Civil Matter!'

In Kansas City, Missouri, KCTV Channel 5 reports:

  • A Kansas City man's plans to move his mother closer to his home turned into a nightmare. And, he says, led to the theft of priceless family heirlooms. In September 2010, Alan Danforth helped purchase a two-story house on Agnes Avenue for his mother Carol Higgs.

  • Because it was a $16,000 cash short sale, with the proceeds going to Chase Home Finance, there was no mortgage on the home. The sale was recorded with Jackson County that same month. "We just gave them a lowball offer and surprisingly they took it and so that's how we got it," Danforth said.

  • Danforth began remodeling the house. This included redoing the floors, hanging new doors and putting up fresh paint. Higgs began moving in furniture, kitchen supplies and even some family heirlooms. "There were things that I had for my grandchildren, my great grandchildren, to pass on and pass down," she said.

  • But in November 2010, Danforth's remodeling work came to an abrupt halt when he discovered the locks had been changed and a notice was on the door. "A lockbox was put on the door, notices that the house was foreclosed upon. That it had been cleaned and winterized," he said.

  • Chase Home Finance had begun foreclosure proceedings on the residence before the short sale to the Danforths. The financial institution failed to update its paperwork. As a result, Chase hired Safeguard Properties to winterize the home, clean it and lock it up.

  • But Danforth says Safeguard did much more than that. "They cleaned it out," Danforth said.. "It's gone. Everything's gone. They cleaned out the garage; they cleaned out the house, cleaned out the barn. Everything was gone."

  • That included the pieces of family history that his mother had collected. "Broke my heart when I found it was gone," Higgs said. "Materialistic stuff can always be replaced. But they took things that belonged to my mother and my grandmother. I cried."

  • The two have repeatedly tried to get answers from Safeguard about where they took the property but have been unsuccessful. Dealing with Chase has been a nightmare because bank operators want Danforth's mortgage information before discussing the missing property.

  • "I kept explaining, 'There is no mortgage on this home. We paid cash for it,'" an exasperated Danforth said "And they were like, 'Why are you contacting us?' And I said, ‘Because I want help finding where the stuff went.' They're thinking I need help with the mortgage. There is no mortgage, it's paid for."

  • He tried to file a theft report with the Kansas City Police Department but officers declined to accept the report because it appears to be a civil dispute over a mortgage. "I explained to the police, ‘No we paid cash for it. There is no mortgage,'" said Alan. "And he goes, "That's between you and Chase.'"(1)

  • In desperation, the mother and son reached out to KCTV5's Investigative Unit. A Chase spokesman eventually admitted a mistake had been made.

  • The company accidentally sent Safeguard Properties into a home Chase no longer owned to winterize, clean, and change the locks. However, Chase denied the allegations that personal property was removed. Chase claimed it has pictures proving the Danforth home was empty when Safeguard entered it. But the bank refused to produce those pictures or do an on-camera interview with KCTV5.


  • [University of Missouri at Kansas City law professor Patrick] Randolph points out that in similar cases, some courts have hit banks with punitive damages of more than a million dollars.(2) "You've got to keep in mind, that the invasion itself that would justify punitive damages. It would be exacerbated by the fact that they lost this woman's treasures of a lifetime."

  • While punitive damages might pay for some of the property Higgs has had to replace, they won't bring back those heirlooms. For that reason, Higgs is seeking an apology from Chase. "Right is right and wrong is wrong and the least I would have expected was a 'sorry,'" Higgs said. "There is no 'sorry.'"

  • Danforth and Higgs are hoping to find an attorney willing to take their case and seek damages.(3) And hopefully get the return of the family heirlooms that no money can replace.

For the story, see KCTV5 Investigates: Chase for Answers.

Go here for other stories on homeowners getting screwed over by improper 'trash-outs.'

(1) This isn't the first time that cops have washed their hands when investigating these real estate-related crimes. See:

(2) For those homeowners who've been screwed over by wrongful lockouts by foreclosing lenders (and their confederates) and seek some possible guidance on how much their cases might be worth if they seek to sue, see:

(3) For examples of filed lawsuits involving illegal bank break-in, "trash-out" & lockout cases, see:

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