Several vacant buildings examined for safety
YAKIMA, Wash.- Do you live near a vacant building?
Code Compliance Officer John Zabell is one of the many officers inspecting 88 vacant properties in Yakima.
"I examine that the plywood is securing the building, and when I determine that, I take my stencil and I spray paint it 'No Trespassing, City of Yakima,'" said Zabell.
This yearly protocol is done to help prevent break-in's and reduce the risk of criminal activity around each vacant area.
"If you are inside of a building that the city closes, and you are caught by codes or the police department, it's a gross misdemeanor and you can go to jail up to 364 days," said Joe Caruso, Code Administration Manager.
Trespassers can also face up to a 5,000 dollar fine. Caruso says two years ago, Yakima had a major problem with vacant buildings getting broken into.
"We were getting six to seven a week. A lot of these situations, they cause havoc in neighborhoods. There's crime, there's drug use, there's theft from garages, houses, car prowls. These types of situations cause those opportunities," said Caruso.
Now with stronger enforcement, Caruso says the numbers are lower than ever before.
"Once the word got on the street to the people in Yakima who were breaking into houses, we get one every three or four months now. So we are staying on top of it and letting people know that the city of Yakima will be very aggressive," said Caruso.