Home deemed not fit to live in

Burglary investigation leads to much more

Dec. 23, 2009

Police searching for stolen guns in an Elm Grove home say they not only found the weapons, but also razor blades and cleaning chemicals left within reach of a toddler, animal feces strewn across the floor and drug paraphernalia.

The Nov. 30 incident has wrought a number of actions against the home's owners and its occupants - a woman, her child and her boyfriend. In addition, burglary and theft charges have been filed against the boyfriend, Alexander De Jesus, 34, and two others, Miguel Oquendo, 39, and Tracy Leisen, 38.

The building inspector last week declared the house, 12500 Knoll Road, unfit for human habitation, said Zoning and Planning Administrator Jessi Balcom said.

In addition, the home's owners are being billed $5,000 for officers' time helping investigate the Nov. 30 burglary, Police Chief Jim Gage said.

Woman taken to jail

According to Elm Grove police, the three people charged are accused of stealing three shotguns, a rifle, a pellet gun and a 37-inch television from an acquaintance's home in Dane County.

A car seen at the scene of the burglary was traced to De Jesus and the Knoll Road home, and police watched the home until a search warrant could be obtained. Officers arrested all three suspects as a result, and searched the home for the stolen items.

Billing the property owner for those efforts is a move authorized by a recently passed update to the village's nuisance ordinance, which pertains to properties that generate numerous police contacts, Assistant Police Chief Gus Moulas said.

Police also used the opportunity to clear some outstanding citations. The woman living in the home has been jailed for failure to pay $2,100 worth of fines for offenses related to her pit bulls, Moulas said. The woman's 22-month-old child was taken into the care of Waukesha County Health and Human Services on Dec. 2, and the Elmbrook Humane Society removed two pit bulls and a cat from the residence.

The fines stem from incidents in May and June. In the first, a white pit bull chased a man and his dog. In the second case, a tan pit bull was loose in the road, causing traffic to swerve and making one person afraid to leave a nearby business.

The woman was fined not only for having a dog at-large but also for failing to register the pets.

Many calls to property

Incidents like this are the reason the Police Department now wants the property owners to pay for time spent dealing with issues there. Officers had been called to the property eight times this year prior to Nov. 30. In addition, the department has received many complaints from neighbors about the property, including cars coming and going at all hours, Moulas said.

"We hope that we won't have another (instance like this). It's a rarity that it gets this far (to a fine)," he said. "Generally, people have been successful in remedying the problem."

The department has contacted the homeowners in the past, who promised to address the issues in the home, even though they don't live there. However, the improvements were never made, and the problems continued, Moulas said.

Even now, bringing the issues at the property to resolution could be a bit tricky. The first task is to determine who actually owned the house - which is in foreclosure - on the date of the Nov. 30 incident, the assistant police chief said.

Since there is uncertainty, notice of the $5,000 fine will be sent to the bank and to the most recent known title holders: the female occupant's parents. The responsible owners will then have to pay the fine.

The owners also will need to correct the building violations that led to the no-occupancy order before being able to live in the house or allowing others to do so, Balcom said.

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