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Bad Neighbors  RSS feed

 
Posts: 35
Location: The Ozarks
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Feel free to move this post if it's not in the right spot.

So we just moved to what we hope will someday be our delicious peaceful paradise, and are about to rough it on the property while we build an Oehler-type shelter

Things were going well until we met our first few locals yesterday.  WHEW!  This is going to be different.  Local #1 offered some good information we think, telling us that we have cougars, bears, two venomous snake species, and some really untrustworthy neighbors.  Our suspicions were confirmed by a few following visitors;  many different local people have been using this land for whatever they want: taking firewood, dumping waste motor oil, hunting, and...I don't even want to know what else.

One of them, the neighbor behind us, refuses to talk to people and, according to local #1, is a "sneaky S.O.B." who will move our property pins.  We have already seen all the signs that he trespasses with an ATV onto our property while drunk, litters beer cans and shoots wildlife (and crushes my pioneer plants, thank you very much.)  We used mapping imagery to find the road route he is carving with his ATV to get access into our land, and sure enough, that backside neighbor's the guy.  My husband is a bit apprehensive about leaving me on the property with potential Mr. Drunk Shot Litter Bug shooting into god knows what or who.

I'm not worried about the bears and mountain lions, somewhat worried about the snakes (our land is too rough to traverse after being bitten, and too rough to carry an injured member to the road), and quite worried about these people I find myself surrounded by.

Here's the thing.  I know the locals and I are different kinds of crazy, and that's fine.  I want to get along with everyone, but I need to establish my turf so no one gets hurt.  Trespassing, stealing, poisoning my soil, and endangering the lives of my family and livestock are all things that are absolutely not acceptable.

Have any of you experienced anything like this?  Please let me know if you have any suggestions.
 
pollinator
Posts: 4339
Location: Anjou ,France
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In similar situations I have done two things
First of all establish my presence , does Mr possibly not nice neighbour know you are there ? Is he really not nice or the bloke who gets the blame for everything that goes wrong or what others do ? It happens in small communities particularly if you are different to everyone else , so watch your own back on that score.I had a similar situation once in a little village where I actually befriended this guy in a similar situation everyone else hated and blamed when it turned out his only "crime " was being  bit autistic  and not good at communicating , so make your own decisions
Secondly a little chat with the local law enforcement about folks trespassing on your land and what they recommend you do. Lays the ground work for any future issues.
 
Posts: 669
Location: Porter, Indiana
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Problem:

Kaye Harris wrote:I'm not worried about the bears and mountain lions, somewhat worried about the snakes (our land is too rough to traverse after being bitten, and too rough to carry an injured member to the road), and quite worried about these people I find myself surrounded by.



Solution:

Kaye Harris wrote:We used mapping imagery to find the road route he is carving with his ATV to get access into our land,



The problem is the solution. You have a property that needs a couple paths so you can better traverse it, and you have a neighbor that like to create paths. Perhaps you could get him to help create a few awesome ATV paths / trails on your property that also happen to allow you to better access your property.
 
gardener
Posts: 2078
Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
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It's "normal" for unoccupied land to be treated (mistreated) as common land in many rural areas.  David is right that establishing your presence as visibly as possible should minimize a great many incursions.

As for the drunken-ATV neighbor, remember your Robert Frost:  Good fences make good neighbors.  After you've touched base with local law enforcement per David's suggestion, make it a priority to fence off any trails that cross your property boundaries.  Do this responsibly, which means in particular putting reflectors and flagging and signs and all sorts of visibility-enhancing stuff anywhere your new wire crosses an existing trail used by ATVs -- no matter how unpleasant this neighbor, you don't want him clothes-lining himself bloodily in the dark when he hits your barbed wire all unawares at 2:00AM going sixty miles an hour. 

A true asshole will of course cut your fence at least once.  But there's a huge difference between hillbilly trespassing and fence-cutting.  Once he does that, you've got a bad act that local law enforcement probably will take a lot more seriously than "mere" trespass.  At that point I would expect the sheriff to give him a good talking-to, and probably after that your next fence will stay up.
 
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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I have seen too many instances where one neighbor warns a new neighbor about another neighbor who "is a problem".  As time goes on, quite often it is the one warning about others that needs the most scrutiny.

Rather than trying to avoid the 'problem' neighbor, perhaps a casual chat can open communications, and eventually get to the heart of the problems.  Ignoring him could be seen as offensive - creating a barrier.  Once we create barriers, real communications are almost impossible.

Showing immediate dislike is not a good way to start a relationship.  Your neighbor will likely be there as long as you are.  Starting off on the wrong foot is not the best approach.  If it turns out he actually is a bad neighbor, then distancing yourselves would be a wise choice.

Pre judging is the heart of prejudice.  Try to get to know him a little bit - even if he is a jerk, at least if you understand him, he should be a little easier to deal with.
 
Kaye Harris
Posts: 35
Location: The Ozarks
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Thank you all for the replies!  Dan Boone, thank you for the specifics--that really helps, and I will be following your advice.

I realize from the replies that I wasn't quite clear before, so I'll try to clarify a little...this isn't about prejudgment, so please don't worry.  I think I must have come off harsher than I intended.  Also, it's never been only about that one neighbor...it's a wider issue.  We actually had evidence of all this activity before Local #1 came by--he only confirmed some things for us.  (And, yes, he brings trouble, too.)  I'm only going off the evidence I personally have, and I recognized from the beginning that there is a legitimate risk to our livelihood that I would like to peacefully mitigate.

We have been camping on our land for nearly a week now, and that has started to help establish our presence and slow the free-for-all, so there has been a good bit of progress.  I was hoping to just run into the hunting neighbor (hopefully not in the nude) and have a chat, but that hasn't happened so far.

We are steadily making contact with the neighbors.  Around here, it's not like you can just drive up their driveways and knock on the front doors.  I totally understand this and personally don't want to invade their space; instead, I like to flag them down as they coast by my place, staring curiously at what I'm doing.  That seems to work.  We've been able to help people out on some things and establish some connections in the process.  What is hard is when you want to establish good connections with a person who avoids people like Bigfoot.  Apparently it isn't legal to use a drone to deliver a gift to a neighbor's front porch. 

Thank you all for the help.
 
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I wouldn't count on group hugs to solve your problem.  I get along well with several of my neighbors, but there are people who through no fault of your own you will never be able to get along with, mostly because they're deranged.

I live in a rural area next to five run-down mobile homes, some of which may or may not be involved in artisanal meth production.  And yet, I never have a problem with the neighbors.  Why?

I fenced my property with a 4' tall field fence with a strand of barbwire on the top.

I have three dogs, one of which is a certifiable 140 lb. bad ass.  (Google fila brasileiro and check out the videos on Youtube.)

I post No Trespassing signs.

I put a few game cameras around the property that text me a photo whenever they detect a moving object.

On some weekends I engage in noisy target practice with guns.

I'm not saying you have to do all of these things, but you can certainly pick and choose from the list.  I'm now 20 years into my little rural adventure and never, ever have a problem with the neighbors. 



 
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George Hayduke wrote:
I fenced my property with a 4' tall field fence with a strand of barbwire on the top.
I have three dogs, one of which is a certifiable 140 lb. bad ass.  (Google fila brasileiro and check out the videos on Youtube.)
I post No Trespassing signs.
I put a few game cameras around the property that text me a photo whenever they detect a moving object.
On some weekends I engage in noisy target practice with guns.



Spectacular advice above.

I would only add that you can do this in zones if time and or budget influence your decision.

Zone 1 - near your abode should be established and secured first. If the size of your land is such that you will be developing it in stages, then you may not care if a neighbor crosses your property lines on the back 40 occasionally. If you only develop zone 1 initially but fence all of your land (zones 2,3, etc), you may be inviting a cut fence. In rural areas common land is a "tradition". When you are ready to seriously develop a zone, that is the time to fence it and get prepared to defend it. If you don't have immediate need of a zone, leaving it open to common use can actually show your sensitivity to "local traditions". Not saying you should put out a dump your stuff here sign, but not all trespassers are ill willed. Plus you can actually learn a lot of Op sec from dealing with wandering neighbors.

Bonus tip - you can buy shotgun shells packed with salt that will do no permanent harm, but will sting like the dickens.

 
garden master
Posts: 1840
Location: USDA Zone 8a
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Kaye Harris wrote:We are steadily making contact with the neighbors.  Around here, it's not like you can just drive up their driveways and knock on the front doors.  I totally understand this and personally don't want to invade their space; instead, I like to flag them down as they coast by my place, staring curiously at what I'm doing.  That seems to work.  We've been able to help people out on some things and establish some connections in the process.  What is hard is when you want to establish good connections with a person who avoids people like Bigfoot.  Apparently it isn't legal to use a drone to deliver a gift to a neighbor's front porch.  Thank you all for the help.



What you are doing is a great idea! Maybe you will not have any problems.  If you do find more damage or disturbances be sure document with picture if you can.  Also keep a diary of events when they occur in case you need to contact the Sheriff's Dept.
 
Posts: 67
Location: West Central Georgia
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George Hayduke wrote:...I have three dogs, one of which is a certifiable 140 lb. bad ass.  (Google fila brasileiro and check out the videos on Youtube.)....



Beautiful dog.
 
Posts: 30
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If you cant fence it off or get more friendly with the neighbor, consider dropping a tree across the paths.  You can always cut the tree up for firewood or something later. It blocks the path and can be simply seen as a way to get fired wood or
posts or other building material.  Needs to be a good sized tree. If someone cuts the tree up and takes the wood, then you have a theft on your hands which is more than tresspassing. If they just cut the tree and make a path, then set up
some game cameras if you can and get footage of tresspass or theft.  good luck.  I did like the idea of using the neighbor to cut paths that you need. Make some lemonade if possible.
 
Posts: 4
Location: ga
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I had a very similar issue with some neighbors before.  after approaching them both on my land and at their door they still continued to do what they wanted.  i then spoke to the authorities and they went with me and witnessed me informing the people of their misdoings.  From then on if they are caught, and i do mean caught, the authorities can handle it.   "Take pictures"  otherwise its your word against theirs.  luckily for me i now live and GA and can shoot the sob's.  as for the snakes be careful what you ask for.   yes you don't want them to put you in harms way but they certainly manage a lot of the small wildlife that can cost money and be problematic.   if they are non poisoness (sp?)  enjoy them.  if you aren't fully embracing the snakes on the land idea try chickens, to them they are just huge worms and fight over them. lol it's hilarious to watch.
 
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I’ve had neighbors of all stripes ranging from wonderful to not so hot.  Fortunately, never any really bad ones.  One neighbor we had in KY liked to, as another neighbor put it, stir up shit and sit back and watch what would happen. 

My family has owned the land I live on for 75 years, 40 years of which they were absentee owners.  When I moved here in 1986, it took me several years to convince people that they could no longer have free use of our land.  They thought all those years of unhindered use conferred some form of permission to continue.  It was necessary for me to inform them how lucky they had been to have had the free use of our property for all those years but that would no longer be the case going forward.  I now have little problem with chronic trespassers…other than ginseng thieves which is a whole different level of aggravation.

I like the response of John Wolfram.  Working with your neighbors is a great way to build a positive relationship.  You may be able to limit a neighbors incursions by “giving him permission” to use a piece of your property if he abides by your rules.  Give him the exclusive right to ride his 4 wheeler through your place as long as it doesn't turn into a ATV highway and there isn't trash lying around.  He may then help you keep others out.

Hopefully, you had the seller survey the property before you purchased it.  If that is the case, you could contact the surveyor to confirm the location of the corners.  If stakes are already present, you could drive fence posts….deep….to emphasize the stake's presence.  Marking the lines with tree marking paint would help as well.  I try to err on my side of the line just a bit when marking.  Flagging is nice because you can change it if you make a mistake.  Flag your lines and ask your neighbors to confirm they are in the correct location and then paint the line when everybody is on board.   Fences have a way of becoming the established line once built, so you better get it right.

People should try to have lines surveyed before a land purchase.  It will need to be done sooner or later, either when you fence, log, sell your property, etc.  It’s difficult to blame people for trespassing when the lines are not marked.  When lines are not well established, loggers have a way of helping themselves to trees as well. We have had trees swiped by loggers cutting on adjoining property on multiple occasions.  If you think logs have been taken from your property, the burden will be on you to show that- i.e. you will need to have a survey done.   If you can establish theft, here in Indiana, the victim is awarded triple value for the stolen trees.  Loggers will usually not take enough trees to make it worth wile to have a survey done.  If the line is surveyed and well marked in advance, loggers should not be a problem.

I like to accommodate my neighbors need to hunt and just wander and enjoy the outdoors.  I try to coordinate hunting so we all get a chance to hunt and hopefully kill some deer.  Deer are a horrendous problem here and I need all the help I can get.  My general policy is that anybody is welcome to walk through my property.  I just don’t want them to take anything or leave anything.  Most of them feel the same way. 
 
master steward
Posts: 5180
Location: Pacific Northwest
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We have a similar sort of neighbor, too. There's various middle-aged men who rent on one of the properties and for fun like to shoot and drive around recklessly. We were actually warned against them when we moved in (that they drive their ATVs and other vehicles up and down the road, especially in the snow, destroying the road). It took four years before we actually ever witnessed or experienced their behavior, largely because our other neighbors already took actions to get them to stop.

Some of the actions taken by our neighbors:

* One neighbor put up a sign saying, "No Trespassing. Trespassers will be shot on sight." Above this sign, they built a lovely hunting tower, complete with chair so they could sit up there and shoot anyone. They of course never did, but it sure looked daunting and solved their problem!

* Other neighbors put up general no-trespassing signs and put up gates in their driveways.

* Many neighbors verbally cussed at or warned the crazy-driving neighbors to stop.

* One neighbor put up a trail cam in front of his house, as well as lots of fencing.

This all worked great for at least four years, until one day one of them went drunk driving up our driveway in his SUV (thankfully our toddler was inside the house!) and broke our power outlet pole (and knocked down our green bean teepee). Since all these other actions had already been taken by our neighbors, we called the police. The police came right away, looked at our neighbor's trail cam, and then went to the drunk-driving neighbors house. He talked with him and suggested the neighbor pay for the damages. The neighbor then offered to fix the power pole for us. We definitely didn't want him playing with our electricity, and we didn't want to start a vendetta, and so just said it was okay as long as he doesn't do it again. If he does do it again, we'll press charges. For now, we're hoping the warning will be enough.

Our philosophy with bad neighbors is to not escalate unless absolutely necessary. The last thing we need is for the neighbors to want revenge and put effort into getting back at us. When we lived in the city and our neighbors were drug dealers and chop-shop owners, we always acted very nice and friendly, baking cookies for the new neighbors, etc. The last thing you want with people like that is to have their friends come at you in all sorts of nefarious ways.

As for getting to know your neighbors, we still don't know everyone on our street, but we do know most everyone. The best way we've had of meeting them is just taking daily walks at various times of the day. That way we can wave and say "Hi" when they're driving by or working on their property. Another idea is, if you have the money/time, to organize a "block party" barbecue and invite everyone. They may not all come, but they are more likely to feel friendly toward you just because you invited them. Look up their address and mail them invitations, or tape the invitation on their mailbox.
 
Posts: 19
Location: Central New Mexico
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John Polk had it right. Some neighbors that are first to warn are the ones that are a problem. Good fences make good neighbors can help tremendously. Then someone else mentioned the neighbor that stirs trouble and then sits back and watches. In my case all the above, they finally have learned to leave me alone for the most part.

Should mention here how important it is to rent in a place before buying? Bad neighbors and other issues can be found out about to some degree if one is renting in  a place for a while.
 
Posts: 77
Location: Maryland, USA
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1. Go around to ALL your neighbors, drive if you have to, knock on the door and introduce yourself. I wouldn't complain about anything, just let them know you are their neighbor and now own the land, and just wanted to introduce yourself.

2. Post signs every 50 ft all around your property facing out from your property, so the next time the townfolk go to the "dump" or their old hunting grounds, they know it is no longer allowed. Alternate no hunting signs with no trespassing signs to be legal.

These 2 steps will solve 99% of your problems. If you see signs of trespassers later, track them down and let them know they are not welcome. Some neighbors share land and may not get the jist of the Signs. Next occurrence, call the police. It is very unlikely someone will risk a run in with the law just for a joy ride. If you have to, then install a fence.
 
Brett Hammond
Posts: 77
Location: Maryland, USA
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Most snake strikes occur when you walk up on a snake and surprise it, so when walking, make lots of noise and poke ahead of you with a walking stick, or my preference is to just wear hiking gaitors designed to protect against snakes. They seem to always strike below the knee. I have surprised a few rattle snakes on the trail and fortunately was wearing very thick paints and got lucky, but would now definitely wear gaitors over paints. Even in summer, i would wear tall socks with gaitors over with my shorts.


http://www.forestry-suppliers.com/product_pages/Products.asp?mi=42241&itemnum=23003&redir=Y
 
Patricia Maas
Posts: 19
Location: Central New Mexico
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I walk to tend my livestock a couple times day through tall grass and misc. vegetation. Rattle snakes are just part of daily life for me and awareness of path and at the farm make a big difference. Tall work boots and heavier material for jeans help much.

Here hog nose rattle snakes have replaced diamond back and prairie rattlers over the last few years.



 
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I have been on the other end of this story more often than not. As a kid a man bought the 100 acres that bordered the back end of our land. There were old skidder trails that were used by all to hike, ride horses, and atvs. When the new landowner moved in he planted a bunch of trees on the trails and felled other trees to cut off the paths. My father told me to respect this mans ways and to not ride on the trails anymore. Many other people who were used to using these trails kept on entering them from our property, because of the lay of the land and the fact that my father kept his trails open. The landowner wasnt around much and we didnt have very many chances to bump into him. Fast forward 25 years, my father is dead and my mother remarried, they are building a new house and logging the land. The previously mentioned neighbor saw the logging and came over enraged because he doesnt know his property lines, he thought that my mother's husband is completely unrelated to my father and he began to rant on how the previous landowner would drive all over his property and throw beer cans and jack deer. None of this was true about my father, he didnt even drink. It was true about his property though, but just because ATVS would occasionally enter from our land he immediately judged my father as a hillbilly.

Dont be that guy! In my opinion it is way worse to be the outsider who comes in and only sees the bad and the differences that are on the surface, than to be the local who has enjoyed the woods for generations. Those folks are there for the same reasons as you, live off the land, and not have others bother them....
 
Posts: 27
Location: Southern Colorado 6200 ft elevation, 20" annual precip, zone 6a/5b
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I'd like to suggest that one of the reasons neighbors may be slow to warm up to you and yours when you move to a new spot is their past experience with new neighbors.  Doesn't make you bad, but you can't know what's gone on before.

It's not just a matter of whether or not they like your presence, most of the time they don't!  I think most permies who have rural places will acknowledge that when nearby land sells and new people show up all neighbors will be thinking something along the lines of "oh boy,  now what".  After all, when you move in YOU are increasing the demands on the little world into which you arrive, not to mention the neighborhood population, noise, and traffic.

I've now been a part of a small rural world for twenty-two years.  I'm still not a "local".  I didn't grow up here, didn't go to school here, don't ( or at least didn't ! ) know people's siblings, grandparents, etc.  That can't be completely changed and will always be noted by the "old timers".

Since I've been here I've seen quite a number of people arriving with plans and a desire to "improve the local community".   Many of those people have come and gone with the wind.  Some have come, stayed, and seem to be making a positive addition to the community.  None the less, the folks who were already here may have never had any notion that their community needed any improvements!

When you become established in a community that was originally new to you, you too may become more cautious about using your time and facilities to help others after you have lived through them coming and then disappearing.  If you help and then they suddenly are gone you may feel some loss, at very least emotional loss.

I'm not suggesting that you don't help your neighbors!  I am suggesting that you don't ask for much of anything when you are the newbie and that you are patient and understanding in the slow process of being assimilated into a small rural community.


 
pollinator
Posts: 247
Location: Unincorporated Pierce County, WA Zone 7b
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My neighbors were REALLY, REALLY, REALLY slow to warm up to me.  Some still haven't.  Turns out, the person who built the original house on the property was a crazy, violent alcoholic.  The people who bought it from him were OK but didn't last and rented the original house to bad tenants repeatedly. The person who bought it from them didn't play nice with others.  So, since the 1950s, I'm the first nice person here. Once I figured that out, things got easier.  I keep to myself and don't cause problems.  For the most part, that has worked out well.

To echo what others have said, my neighbors that "look" like they should be my "good" neighbors are neighbors with very bad dogs and we're in an ongoing animal control dispute. The neighbors that are "ugly" and "crazy" are actually my "good" neighbors.   They may be a little crazy.  But, they are the ones who are going to be there in a pinch.  They are actually the kindest of all my neighbors.

I would really claim your space.  Go build SOMETHING over in the edges of the property with the trails so people become very aware of your presence and your intention to mark the space on your property.  That alone should help.

FWIW, I grew up in Alaska and almost anything that wasn't marked as private was more or less fair game to cross.   Make yourself known.
 
Posts: 41
Location: Deerbrook, Wi
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glen summers wrote:
I like to accommodate my neighbors need to hunt and just wander and enjoy the outdoors.  I try to coordinate hunting so we all get a chance to hunt and hopefully kill some deer.  Deer are a horrendous problem here and I need all the help I can get.  My general policy is that anybody is welcome to walk through my property.  I just don’t want them to take anything or leave anything.  Most of them feel the same way. 



It's not surprising that newcomers feel obliged to mark their territory, but I assure you that the best way to dispel the locals unease is to demonstrate a willingness to share. The proliferation of private property signs is something to e deplored. Best to come to an understanding, such as you can pass through my land if I can trespass on yours. Even if you don't want to go there, they'll have a choice to make. They have to put up with you, too.
 
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You may want to review the laws regarding adverse possession in your area.   If someone openly uses your property they could claim possession to it if you are not careful.    Here is a good short definition:  Adverse possession is a method of acquiring title to real property by possession for a statutory period under certain conditions, viz: proof of non-permissive use which is actual, open and notorious, exclusive, adverse, and continuous for the statutory period.
 
Anne Miller
garden master
Posts: 1840
Location: USDA Zone 8a
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Kaye Harris wrote: Here's the thing.  I know the locals and I are different kinds of crazy, and that's fine.  I want to get along with everyone, but I need to establish my turf so no one gets hurt.  Trespassing, stealing, poisoning my soil, and endangering the lives of my family and livestock are all things that are absolutely not acceptable. Have any of you experienced anything like this?  Please let me know if you have any suggestions.



One thing that I have not seen mentioned is "purple paint".

"It should also be noted that only a few states, including Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, and Texas, have formal laws establishing purple paint markings as the legal equivalent of "No Trespassing" signs."

I believe Kaye is in Missouri so this may be helpful.

We use both "No Trespass" signs and purple paint. 

Missouri's Purple Paint Statute: A New Way To Protect Your Property From Trespassers
 
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This is funny. Since we are sharing stories, I'll weigh in. I bought my rural property a few years back and got the same welcome. "well, watch out for this guy, but this other guy is OK", and so forth. And as others have said, do your own independent research on the matter. I've found the neighbors to mostly be helpful, but one if particular is quite full of bologna. He'll tell you a tall tale if you let him, but if you show him he's wrong, or at least why you think you're right, he's respectful enough. I'm a youngster in the community. I was 25 when I bought the place, and surrounded by older neighbors in the 50-60's at least. I think partially they are shocked to see a young man break out like this, bad also partially impressed.

Anyway, day one we got the "warning" not to go down to where the road turns to dirt after dark, as that's where the trouble lives. My wife was concerned of course. I just reminded her that living in the suburbs you are no safer, as crime and trouble goes where it wants to. All you can do is establish a boundary, and let it know that such activity is not welcome, and won't be tolerated. No, don't put up a "I HAVE GUNS!" sign. That just annoys most folks if they were already there and you moved in. How you treat your own property, and how you treat others will establish the appropriate relationship.

Knocking on wood, we've had no issues with vandalism that I can really site. There was once that someone used our driveway as a parking spot, then cut the neighbor's fence and stole stuff out of his barn. But they seemed to have walked right by my stuff and left it untouched. I keep things locked up or tied down. Crackheads will take what they can carry. Dedicated thieves will take it no matter what you do, as they'll plan an assault. Basically, just don't make it easy to abuse you, and often times folks won't try.

We are finally getting ready to build, and are a bit apprehensive about the risk of someone trying to steal the building materials. But hopefully maintaining a good daily presence until we are moved in will deter any sticky fingers.

If you're neighbors learn to respect you, they'll look out for you too.
 
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Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
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Regarding adverse possession, my best friend's father tried that several decades ago in the Adirondacks. There was a bit of property next to their house that they used as access to a waterway I think, and they tried to claim it, but the owner (a company?) finally noticed and put a stop to it. As my friend says, they shouldn't have tried anything in the first place, as they were not being stopped from using it yet didn't have to pay taxes on it.

On a practical note, my understanding is that you actually have to build something on it or use it constantly and without the owner using it or doing anything to stop other use, for a number of years, for adverse possession to work.
 
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Adverse possession involves both regular use of and also paying taxes on the proeperty you're trying to claim, AFAIK.
 
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Location: Zone 7b, Georgia.
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George - I like your approach, but one word of caution: people will put out antifreeze if they decide your dogs are bothering them. Seen it happen several times unfortunately.*

What kind of cameras are you using that text you? That would be quite helpful to me.

In general I really like the idea of the purple paint law. Having someone move in next door and then put up no trespassing signs everywhere right off the bat is rude to my mind. Paint accomplishes the same task without the rudeness. Of course if there is a problem by all means put up signs, they won't stop the problem, but they are a step down the legal road.

In general if you are new to an area it pays to learn what people expect of their neighbors (think keeping the grass 2" short in a subdivision). Here are some of the things that matter around here (in more or less order of importance): keeping your dogs on your property, keeping your fencelines clean, planting orange daylillies along the roadside. You don't have to do these things (apart from controlling your animals), but they are just good practice anyway.

*This should be punishable by immediate death.
 
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Lot of variables and many different experiences. In mine, it comes down to local culture.

In some places, say Vermont and New England in general, there is a long history of sharing land and permitting people to cross your land for hunting or other recreation -- with so little public land you kind of have to. Coming in and putting up signs is considered extremely rude.

In the west, at least where I am, failure to put up signs is seen as tantamount to giving permission for people to do whatever they want. You know, like when you leave your house unlocked it's ok for people to steal your stuff?

Here the best solution is to get cattle -- even just one or two. They can't understand you not wanting ATVs and beer cans, but they will respect a cattle fence, not least because it is barbed wire. It has the additional benefit of serious laws in most places concerning cattle rustling and what not -- a quirk of history.

And cameras. It wasn't until I put up cameras that my neighbors behaved. It was like night and day.

Laws concerning easements and adverse possession vary from state to state and it is imperative that you know and enforce your rights. Where I am if a neighbor has been crossing your land for 5 years or more they can claim a prescriptive easement. It's up to them to prove it, but at that point if you have opposed it but not sought to enforce it, they have the legal right to use your land. Counter-intuitively the easy way to stop the prescription is to give them permission, but why? The only way to stop it is to enforce it with fencing and get the law to back you up.
 
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