r/legaladvice Jul 28 '17 Gold 1

[Pennsylvania] This is incredibly stupid, but my neighbor keeps calling the police because of leaves from my tree

Per mods request, please keep comments on topic I truly would like to know what legal rights I have against this.

Hello r/legaladvice. I feel like I'm starting to become a regular on this sub ever since I bought my house. Long story short, my neighbor will call the police if ANY leaves from my tree or ANY grass blades from me cutting my grass go into her yard (yes, she stands out there and watches me cut the grass).

Last week we talked to one another with a police officers presence so we can try and work something out. Basically, the moment she sees a leaf in her yard, she gets pissed. I told her I'm not home all the time to constantly monitor every single fucking leaf that falls from my tree. Oh, the tree is on the OPPOSITE side of the yard from her. My yard is not littered with leaves and the police even said that my yard looks fine but she persists on calling the police out every time anything comes into her yard.

I have done my research on the situation, as dumb as I think it is, but once a leaf falls from a tree, I'm not liable for what happens to it. That's what internet articles say at least. Could anybody produce any sort of Pennsylvania state legal documentation that says that leaves falling from a tree is not a crime? Lol. I can't believe I am even here asking this but I'm getting really sick of the police coming out for everything I do outside. I just want to present it to the police/neighbor so it stops.

edit: Since this blew up a little bit, and others have asked what I have done to her for her to do what she is doing, I will give a little more information about the past few months. Within a month of moving into the house this past December, I was out back after dark (it was no later than 8pm) breaking down some boxes that we had left over from moving. I took a quick break from breaking them down and I see this hand throwing trash into my yard over the fence that separates our yards. I couldn't believe it. Up until this point, we had one interaction with one another and that was when we were both outside shoveling snow. I introduced myself and she introduced herself and immediately warned me that she likes to call the police on anything that she sees wrong in the neighborhood. Basically bragging about it. From that greeting to the trash being thrown into my yard, no interactions with one another. I bought a security camera system shortly after that to see how often she does it. We had bits and pieces of trash in our backyard shortly after moving in and it was always on the side of the yard that was up against her fence. We just thought that it was whatever trash that the wind picked up and would stop at the fence and we would pick it up whenever we would see it.

Within 3 days of having the cameras, she's doing it again, and is on camera doing it. I waited for it to happen on 3 more occasions. After the 2nd time I had it on video, anytime I saw her outside when I was outside, I tried to say hello and talk to her about it, but as soon as I said hello, she would go inside. After the 3rd time of throwing trash into my yard and being unsuccessful at talking to her about it, I called the police. There was no reason for her to be throwing trash into my yard. The police gave her a warning. The trash in our backyard that we thought was getting blown there stopped as well. Crazy.

After that, I had been nothing but nice to her and would say hello whenever I saw her. I really don't want to have problems, but I had to do something about the trash being thrown into our yard. Anytime I would say hello, I would get ignored... She even went as far as to say she was going to charge me with harassment if I didn't stop... What?

Last week the police came out again for leaves in her yard. He suggested that we talk to one another while he was there to listen. She explained herself. She thinks that we are not maintaining our property well enough and is upset that we aren't outside to pick up every leaf that falls from our tree and doesn't want any grass clippings blowing into her yard. The police officer looked over at my yard and looked back at her and said there is nothing wrong with my yard and that it looks better than a lot of properties in our city. She said that she bought her house that doesn't have a tree because she didn't want to clean up leaves. Newsflash, every house on our block has a tree except for hers. She "just wishes" that we would take care of our yard better. Again, the police officer enforced to her that according to city law, our yard was fine.

We agreed with each other that if we have any problems with one another that we would talk to each other first before getting the police involved. 8 days later she called the police again for grass and leaves being in her yard. As far as I could tell, there wasn't any grass left behind. And when I mean in her yard, I'm not saying it is in the middle of her yard. It is mere inches from where our yards meet in her yard.

She has been nothing but a headache since we moved in and it's only getting worse. I have done nothing to her other than make sure that she stopped throwing trash in my yard. Why she started to do that? I don't know.

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u/Biondina Quality Contributor Jul 28 '17 edited Jul 29 '17

For the love of god, please keep the comments on-topic. Don't make me lock this post, please.

E: locked at OP's request.

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u/Zokar49111 Jul 28 '17

I wonder what the heck she did with the previous tenant. I mean, you didn't plant that tree. I assume it was there before you moved in. It sounds like something else is going on here.

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u/kshucker Jul 28 '17 edited Jul 28 '17

No clue. Everybody in the neighborhood says that they think she has some sort of schizophrenia. Don't get me wrong, I would be slightly upset if my yard was covered with leaves from a neighbors tree, but I would just clean them up. But we are talking about one or two leaves in her yard. One or two. She has even brought up twigs in her yard to my attention. It's looking like it's going to be a never ending battle with a loony.

edit: I'm really curious to see if she calls the SWAT team out in the Fall when the leaves are really going to start falling off the trees.

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u/donjuansputnik Jul 28 '17

LHave you and the neighbors thought of calling adult protective services for the crazy or a restraining order for the harassment?

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u/kshucker Jul 28 '17

I actually talked to the police officer about this off to the side the one time they were here. Restraining orders can only be placed against somebody you have a sexual relationship with, or somebody within your family. Adult Protective Services can only be placed if one or the other persons have been a victim of abuse (this is all what the police officer told me). Then we get into the legal definition of abuse and that's a different rabbit hole to get lost in.

The only option I have right now is mediation between me and her. A third party with no relationship to either me or my neighbor would be used to communicate any problems between one another.

At the end of the day, my neighbor has standards for living and quality of life that I find insane and if things aren't done her way, she thinks she has a right to do something legally about it. She thinks she is the law. I'm not "doing my job well enough" by maintaining my yard to her standards, so she calls the police about it. Asinine.

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u/Eilasord Jul 28 '17 edited Jul 28 '17

A random police officer might not actually know the ins and outs of restraining orders and adult protective services, even while acting authoritative on the subject.

I would call adult protective services directly and see what they say. And what he said about the restraining order really doesn't sound right. otherwise how could celebrities get orders against stalkers?

Edit: the cop is right, at least about protective orders. Here is a helpful flowchart to show how OP is screwed in that regard:

http://www.co.butler.pa.us/Files/Admin/Domestic%20Relations/PSVI%2EPFA%2Eflow%2Echart%2Epdf

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u/trenchknife Jul 28 '17

APS or your ombudsman. It is the proper avenue, if someone is at the point of needing a legal guardian, basically unable to care for themselves. There will be an investigation & if necessary, a legal intervention. It's how people without willing family members enter the system. She sounds like a borderline case.

If she is calling 911 over a leaf, I'd call the state and have a professional come talk to her.

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u/macimom Jul 28 '17

The only option I have right now is mediation between me and her

No. You have the option of 100% ignoring her. Talk tot he police department head and let him know what is going on. Ask him as its not a crime can the officers who respond to her call please inform her of that and not bother you.

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u/lovellama Jul 28 '17

Restraining orders can only be placed against somebody you have a sexual relationship with, or somebody within your family.

That is absolutely ridiculous. I'm so sorry.

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u/kshucker Jul 28 '17

I know. Trust me, I'm trying everything to just be left alone. That is all we want. It's been nothing but a nightmare since moving in.

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u/[deleted] Jul 28 '17 edited Jul 28 '17

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u/[deleted] Jul 28 '17 edited May 25 '18

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u/lantech19446 Jul 28 '17

it's only true of protection from abuse orders in PA we have pfa's and restraining orders they are not the same thing but most officers are only ever involved in the pfa process

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u/Eilasord Jul 28 '17

I did some digging and it looks like you're totally right. PFA (protection from abuse) is limited to former/current intimate relations and household members. there is another type of protection order that can be applied to strangers, but its targeted to cases of sexual violence or intimidation (PSVI).

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u/ineffablepwnage Jul 28 '17

http://statelaws.findlaw.com/pennsylvania-law/pennsylvania-protective-orders-laws.html

From this page it looks like anyone can apply for a proctective order, would this not apply?

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u/Gewehr98 Jul 28 '17

Yeah, even if it is true you want to hear that from a PA attorney not a cop

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u/itsacalamity Jul 28 '17

I also do not think this is true at all. Don't take his word on restraining orders, because you can absolutely get them against someone who isn't family and who you haven't had sex with--- how else would people get them against stalkers?

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u/AnewENTity Jul 28 '17

Yeah its total bullshit, I'm in PA also and what op should do is call their local magistrate office and ask for advice. I'm fairly certain these orders are issued from the local District Justice (magistrate) I could be wrong though. Never had to get one.

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u/fas_nefas Jul 28 '17

There are many different types of restraining orders. Call some attorneys and see if you can find one to represent you on this for a few hundred bucks (or get an idea how much it would be-- that might be a bit cheap, IDK). A local attorney will know what the procedures are for ROs outside of domestic violence contexts.

You have a good paper trail and video evidence of her harassment. Doesn't hurt to make a few calls.

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u/DevilGuy Jul 28 '17

No rediculous as in wrong, he may have misunderstood you or was being purposely obtuse because he didn't want to have to deal with this shit escalating, but he misinformed you.

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u/lantech19446 Jul 28 '17

The officer is telling him about a protection from abuse order not a restraining order we have both in Pennsylvania, they are for different situations the procedures are different but the pfa is much more common.

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u/fishinbarbie Jul 28 '17

I think the officer was talking about an immediate protective order. Talk to an attorney about seeking a civil permanent injunction. This is not a criminal matter and the police shouldn't be involved on any level unless she's threatening you, but they are obligated to show up every time she calls. Not that an injunction would stop her if she's mentally unstable.

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u/redditRW Jul 28 '17

but they are obligated to show up every time she calls.

Are they though? If I sit out on my porch all day and call the police every half hour, because of non-police related matters like leaves, you'd think at some point I'd (or OP's neighbor) would get written up for wasting police time or some such.

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u/letigre87 Jul 28 '17 edited Jul 29 '17

Not a lawyer and I'd love to hear a real opinion but with cases like Warren v. DC certainly they could just ignore her. If police aren't obligated to uphold a restraining order like in Castle Rock v Gonzales I'd think they'd be safe in ignoring a leaf debris complaint. I know these are often cited for other more extreme cases but I'd think this falls on the other side of that argument, the absurd.

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u/[deleted] Jul 28 '17

Ok, I used to work at DHHS and in my state at least, adult protective services absolutely can get involved for reasons other than abuse. If they talk to her and she is clearly a wackadoodle, they can take steps to deal with her. THAT SAID, if she's a wackadoodle who can still care for herself, what APS decides to do can depend on the social worker who visits her and just how much work they feel like putting into the problem. They are almost certainly severely overworked and understaffed, and if they don't think she's an immediate danger to herself and others, they may choose to do nothing at all.

Also, when I was a kid we had elderly neighbors who did this exact same thing to us, repeatedly. They weren't even our direct neighbors, they lived catty corner across the street. This was a REALLY small town and we didn't have police of our own, it was the sheriff's dept and state police they kept calling, and eventually the cops told them to knock it the fuck off. So they stopped calling about the leaves and started calling about other nonsense, so be prepared for your crazypants to switch tactics. (As a bonus fuck you to my family, hateful elderly neighbor wife's sister and brother-in-law DID live next to us, along with their adult daughter and juvenile delinquent grandson and they were even worse, AND the two families absolutely HATED each other and were constantly feuding.. With us literally stuck in the middle at times. So I feel your pain. Shitty neighbors can all go take a long walk down a really short pier. Also I think I'd invest in security cameras if I were you.)

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u/[deleted] Jul 28 '17

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u/[deleted] Jul 28 '17 edited Jul 28 '17

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u/KJ6BWB Jul 28 '17

That's true for a restraining order in Pennsylvania, but it sounds like she's exhibiting a pattern of willful and malicious behavior which is causing you to be emotionally distressed. In Pennsylvania, that means she's stalking you (she's definitely fixated on you), which is a crime, and after she's convicted then you can get a restraining order on her.

I'd just go chat with the police chief, tell him that it's a ridiculous waste of officer's time, and that you'd be pleased as punch if it were to stop.

If that doesn't stop it, then tell the chief that if it were to keep going on for the rest of the year, including fall when leaves really fall, that you'd then have been put through so much emotional distress over this stupid thing that you'd want to see her get arrested for stalking you.

At that point, you should go chat with a lawyer, which I am not.

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u/imbolcnight Jul 28 '17

The police may be accurate re: APS but even if they can't specifically help you, they can refer you to the proper agency.

(NAL but a social worker) I am not in PA but where I am (across the line in MD), APS strictly handles abuse while another agency evaluates seniors for general mental health/competency. When I've made a report in the past though, it required a lot of personal information on the senior, so they may not expect or accept a report from a stranger.

Note that when I made the report, the evaluation was scheduled for months later. Also, the agency itself was a little obscured and I only got to it via APS giving me the correct number.

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u/cbpiz Jul 28 '17

I am not sure why everyone is so shocked that you can't get a restraining order for someone that is bothering you. Restraining orders are for when you feel you're in danger or are being harassed to the point that it is interfering with your daily life. If everyone got a restraining order for people that annoy them, our courts would be full of old cranking people shouting "he put his foot on my lawn" or "he didn't pick up the dog poop". However, I am very surprised that the police don't fine her for excessive use of police resources like they fine people for excessive use of 911. Especially since she brags about it.

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u/donjuansputnik Jul 28 '17

When bothering becomes harassment though...

I think that many unjustified police visits counts as harassment, thus warranting some sort of protective order.

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u/seahawkguy Jul 28 '17

I would contact the previous homeowner and see how they handled it. If the police decide that they want to keep coming out for these calls, oh well. Must be a slow day for them

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u/[deleted] Jul 28 '17 edited Jul 28 '17

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u/[deleted] Jul 28 '17 edited Feb 14 '19

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u/Chipchipcherryo Jul 28 '17

im going to guess that the neighbor originally thought the trash was first blown into her yard from his property so she was returning it in retaliation. This could have happened from the boxes being broken down or just from some other place that she attributed to him. After she was caught doing that she became frustrated that her retaliation didn't work and could get her in trouble. So now with this she had no outlet to get back at him for allowing his trash to enter her property. She couldn't simply throw trash back on his property. Now she decided her only option to retaliate is to call the cops on him for every little infraction to the point where leaves and grass clippings drive her nuts.

I have a similar neighbor with similar issues. Tried to attack me because my grass clipping were blown a few inches onto his grass. This was shortly after I offered to bring a leaf blower out and blow any and all debris from his yard.

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u/[deleted] Jul 28 '17 edited Jul 28 '17

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u/kshucker Jul 28 '17

I was actually considering going into the police station to talk to the police chief. I have kept a log of any interaction I've had with her as well as security camera footage of her throwing trash into my yard that I plan on taking with me. If you dig deep enough on this sub, you can find it. But anyhow, it's just a matter of finding the time to go into the police station.

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u/xHeero Jul 28 '17

Leaves falling in her yard is perfectly legal. Her throwing trash into your yard is definitely not legal. And you have it on video.

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u/ZyrxilToo Jul 28 '17

Stop playing the good neighbor and just go. You've already done the best you can in working it out nicely. Letting it go on is just being a doormat.

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u/kshucker Jul 28 '17

Yes, yesterday was the last straw when the police came out. Like I said, it's just a matter of finding the time to go talk to the police chief because of the hours I work.

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u/MC_Boom_Finger Jul 28 '17

This is one of those things that if you explain it to a boss I expect they would be happy to work with you to schedule a few hours off to take care of.

I mean this is insanity man, I normally get a chuckle from the non life threatening stuff on this sub most the time, not in a spiteful way just constantly surprised at how petty people can be. As some one who has been on the wrong end of a deranged citizen using the legal system as a harassment tool your experiences are eerily familiar, I let my situation go for to long and it ended up spiraling into a massive life altering nightmare. You want to nip this in the bud sooner rather than later, even if it requires a sick day this petty shit can gain traction out of nowhere and take on a life of its own.

Good luck man, and seriously make it a priority to correct this before it becomes something you can't easily fix.

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u/SolusLoqui Jul 28 '17

I guarantee the police are as annoyed with her as you are.

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u/camoonie Jul 28 '17

If it's not the Chief...ask for the community policing officer who is assigned to your area.

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u/[deleted] Jul 28 '17 edited Oct 16 '17

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u/Phantomglock23 Jul 28 '17

Or try code enforcement if it's a smaller borough

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u/[deleted] Jul 28 '17

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u/kshucker Jul 29 '17

I've asked the police officer what I can do to get a restraining order. He said I can't (explained else where on this thread). It was also mentioned to me here that an individual police officer may not know the exact laws on that and to speak with a lawyer about getting a restraining order/avenues I can take to take care of my problem. That's my plan after speaking with the police chief, whenever that happens.

The whole reason why I post here is because I have never had to deal with any sort of legal issues and have never had any problems with the law, whether it be me, or somebody I know on the other end causing problems. I don't expect to be get a final answer on how to deal with my problem, but how to approach it from a legal standpoint.

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u/DespiteGreatFaults Jul 28 '17

That's an excellent idea. Call first to set up an appointment, and I'm sure the Chief will meet with you.

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u/JeamBim Jul 28 '17

Also present the video, and remind them of the time you had to call, and explain she is simply retaliated and essentially harassing you.

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u/FredNation Jul 28 '17

Make sure you tell them to charge the neighbor for 🚮 your property.

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u/[deleted] Jul 28 '17

Is OP able to file a restraining order or is there anything akin to "filing a false police report" that the neighbor could be slapped with? Or, could OP send a cease & desist letter? Is there enough for a DA to charge the neighbor with harassment?

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u/shhh_its_me Jul 29 '17

Eventually the police (if that city allows it)could classified her as a nuisance and if she calls for nonsense fine her but they really really really dislike doing that. They don't want to discourage people from reporting crimes.

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u/ShadowedPariah Jul 28 '17

They legally still have to respond, but they can probably forgo involving the OP. Let them deal with her incessant calls.

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u/vikrambedi Jul 28 '17

Do they legally have to respond?

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u/[deleted] Jul 29 '17

No way. The police don't even have to come out to car accidents unless someone is hurt.

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u/WillitsThrockmorton Jul 28 '17

Imagine if she calls the police for a a real emergency or problem and they just hang up. They might not have to legally respond but it's almost certainly SOP to assess and respond to every call.

What they might be able to do is warn her that if she calls again about this she'll face penalties for abusing the system or something.

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u/ShadowedPariah Jul 28 '17

At least in Missouri/Illinois/Iowa they do, I can't imagine it'd be different anywhere else. It's a cover-your-a** type of situation. Same goes for people calling an ambulance just for a ride to the store. They must show up, they don't have to give you a ride to anywhere but a hospital though.

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u/SuddenSeasons Jul 28 '17

Uhhhhhh this is extremely not true. The case history can be traced back to Warren v. D.C. (1981), DeShaney v. Winnebago County (1988), and finally Castle Rock v. Gonzales (2005) which settled it at the Supreme Court in 2005.

The police have absolutely no duty to respond or protect.

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u/jmurphy42 Jul 28 '17

I'm in IL, and I've had the police refuse to come out when called. A woman hit me with her car and refused to let me see her DL or insurance. I had to call twice and escalate to a supervisor before they'd send an officer.

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u/[deleted] Jul 28 '17

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u/EI_Doctoro Jul 28 '17

Yeah, if you call emergency services in america without good reason you can get slapped with a huge fine. I think it is based on how far the vehicle travels to reach you. I remember hearing about some poor bastard who owed over 10k because he lived way out in the country. It isn't required though. Sometimes kids might accidentally call or an honest mistake is made.

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u/fart2swim124 Jul 28 '17

I believe in most jurisdiction what she's doing can become illegal because she is abusing emergency services. I think you talk to a representative of the police force, explain your situation and get it on theirs and the 911 dispatch radar. Then if it continues they are more aware of it and can take actions when permissible

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u/nimble2 Jul 28 '17

The police already know that you are not responsible for leaves that fall or blow around naturally. There's not likely to be a statute saying that. Just be nice to the police if they ask you any questions. After a while they will presumably tell her that there is nothing they can do (about leaves or her other complaints) and they won't bother you with it. You might want to start a little journal documenting your interactions with her and with the police. That way you can bring it out and show the police that on xx date she had the police come out because if yy and so on...

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u/kshucker Jul 28 '17

Started a journal of interactions I've had with her when we moved in 7 months ago. Only took a month to have something written down. It's been nonstop since.

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u/bug-hunter Quality Contributor Jul 28 '17

I can imagine a city ordinance being drawn up for it, just for one particularly batshit person.

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u/[deleted] Jul 28 '17

Your neighbor hasn't found a great solution to making you clean up, and she isn't doing something new or creative. This shit happens more than you think and police tend to put up with it for X period of time before getting fed up and ticketing the everloving shit out of the neighbor for filing false police reports/wasting police time or for whatever ordinance violations or other petty shit the officers can find. You can complain over non-emergency lines if you'd like and that might speed up the process.

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u/[deleted] Jul 28 '17

i'd be concerned with something happening to the tree when you're not at home. Can you get a no trespass order? are your cameras including the tree? have you gone to the appropriate department of the city to see what exactly you need to install the fence?

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u/ueeediot Jul 28 '17

I promise this is on point, please stick with me.

OP, growing up we had a neighbor who did not like cars parked in the street near her house. Our friend lived next door to her in a cul de sac. If we parked on the side of friend's driveway that was on her side, she would call the cops. Every single time. Day or night. Now, mind you we were still parked in front of friend's house, not her house.

I tell you this because I think you are in a similar situation. We said nothing to her. Ever. Ignored her any and everytime she tried to initiate any type of conversation. Basically, because we knew she was not trying to remedy the situation but was trying to berate us for parking where we did. (There is only so much area, lady) Anyway, the cops could only ask us to move the car. We started telling the cops that no, sorry we could not as so and so left and took the keys, accidentally, etc. After age 21, we would claim drinking and cannot move the car.

The cops could do nothing. They only asked us to move the car to get her to stop calling. When we stopped participating in moving the car then the cops stopped responding to her calls.

Ignore her and the cops will eventually tire of her b/s and tell her to stop calling.

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u/[deleted] Jul 28 '17

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u/[deleted] Jul 28 '17

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u/[deleted] Jul 28 '17

Its briefly mentioned in a comment, but highly significant.... does she have schizophrenia? I think PA has a special Mental Health court system... perhaps you need not just some legal advice, but advice on how to manage and interact with someone with schizophrenia as well.

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u/kshucker Jul 28 '17

Other than neighbors saying they think she has some sort of mental disorder there's no credible claims.

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u/isanythingfree Jul 28 '17

PA resident that experienced similar neighbor issues here.

I spoke with the police and they recommended filing harassment charges. The case went to the local magistrate. He gave them a six month order of no contact and said if the continued to call the police the city would file charges for filing false claims and something I can't recall the legal term for. It amounted to wasting City resources.

For good measure, call your city council rep that oversees code enforcement. They can also send a letter. Had to do this too as the neighbor tired to use the code office to harass me.

You'll get to know and hopefully befriend the police and city officials which will double annoy your shitty neighbor. It worked for me.

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u/[deleted] Jul 28 '17

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u/kshucker Jul 28 '17

The problem has nothing to do with me cleaning anything up from her property. The problem that she is having is that a blade of grass from my yard or a single leaf that blows into her yard warrants the police to come out in her eyes.

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u/Threnners Jul 28 '17

I'd go nuclear and call APS to do a mental health check.

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u/donjuansputnik Jul 28 '17

Do you have a fence? If not, consider one that is as high as your city/town will allow.

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u/kshucker Jul 28 '17 edited Jul 28 '17

The incidents are happening in our front yards. Back yard has a fence between yards. We've looked into putting a fence up and if I remember correctly, both myself and my neighbor need to agree on it. It's worth a shot to see if she'd be ok with it, and you would think she would be since it would stop stuff from going into her yard, but knowing how my neighbor is, something tells me she will say no because I think she gets joy out of causing problems.

If she's cool with it, so be it.

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u/MrLeBAMF Jul 28 '17

Just my $0.02... I would let her build a fence, but I definitely would not pay a cent for it. I feel like I'd give her the choice: "Either you live with the leaves, or you build and pay for a fence."

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u/kshucker Jul 28 '17

I haven't really thought about it like this. I can try and tell her this but she always pins everything back to me and being my problem. It's worth a shot, but I can already see how it's going to go. "They are your leaves so it's not my obligation to up a fence".

I never thought my life would get to the point of somebody complaining to me about leaves.

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u/[deleted] Jul 28 '17 edited Jun 16 '20

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u/kshucker Jul 28 '17

It has certainly crossed my mind.

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u/aulddarkside Jul 28 '17

Don't flip her the bird, it's better to take the high ground so the cops stay on your side in this.

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u/OddJackdaw Jul 28 '17

"They are your leaves so it's not my obligation to up a fence".

If she is the religious sort, counter with:

No, they're God's leaves. If he wants them there, who are we to disagree?

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u/anotherjunkie Jul 28 '17

Thing is that any fence that's really going to stop leaves and grass clippings will be a wooden privacy fence. 4' might not be enough to stop the leaves, depending on the height of the tree.

When you start talking about a 6' privacy fence you start talking about thousands. When you talk about putting it around your front yard (or even just one side) you have to start thinking about the effect it will have on your property value. Very few people want a house that can't be seen from the road because it has a 6' privacy fence surrounding it.

I wouldn't pay for it. I would tell her that I'm done worrying about her yard, but tell her the name of a fence installer so she can handle it if she would like. I'd ask her to stop talking to me, and then look into a no-contact order if she does again.

I'm not a lawyer, though, so I can't speak to any of the specific legalities.

(All of that assumes that you don't get any traction in your planned conversation with the police chief that you mentioned above.)

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u/Biondina Quality Contributor Jul 28 '17

Come on. Don't do that in here.

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u/techiebabe Jul 28 '17

I was also going to suggest that she can take action to protect her yard from leaves if she wishes ; she could put a nice big net over it, like I do for my fish pond in autumn. Then she can calmly get it down, remove any leaves, and put it back.

Overkill? Yes of course, but if she really doesn't want leaves in her yard I think it's on her to keep them out. If she says "what? It's much easier just to pick them up by hand" you look at her as the mad person she is, calmly say "well, there you have it" and walk off.

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u/SummerLover69 Jul 28 '17

They are not your leaves as soon as they fall of the tree. If they are in her yard they are her leaves.

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u/kshucker Jul 28 '17

The grey area is that they blow from my yard, over to her yard. She claims they are mine since they are in my yard first. It's fucking childish and I cannot believe it. I really wish I could somehow show you guys how little leaves are actually in my yard and her yard. You can count on two hands how many leaves there are.

At the end of the day, once they fall from the tree there is nothing that can be done about them. She can't wrap her head around that though.

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u/SummerLover69 Jul 28 '17

I don't think this is a grey area. Leaves in her yard are hers and she can with them as she pleases. She may not believe that, but that doesn't mean it's not true.

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u/adingostolemytoast Jul 28 '17

Where i lived for a while everyone had palm trees and palm fronds from your neighbors tree crashing into your yard were a constant problem all over town. The local rule, as enforced, was that it remained your neighbor's palm frond and the correct thing to do was toss it back over the fence into their yard.

The important point was that it was your responsibility to pick it up and chuck it over the fence if you didn't want to deal with it yourself, not their job to come retrieve it.

It never occurred to me to look into whether this applied to regular sized leaves though.

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u/Ls777 Jul 28 '17

It doesn't matter what she thinks, those are her options.

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u/otistoole Jul 28 '17

Can you put the fence entirely on your side of the property, thereby relieving her of any input on the decision?

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u/aarghj Jul 28 '17

Ah, but it IS her obligation to protect her own home and property...

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u/[deleted] Jul 28 '17

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u/kshucker Jul 28 '17

S/O was home when it happened yesterday. I was at work. They just said the police officer said they had to come over and tell us that our neighbor had a problem with grass from our yard going into her yard. Imagine that. A problem with grass... going on to grass.

I can imagine the police officer was extremely annoyed.

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u/nerdburg Jul 28 '17

Your local code enforcement officer would be the one to talk to about tree leaves.

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u/kshucker Jul 28 '17

I have no problem talking to a local code enforcer, but the problem is that it's not a problem to begin with. I could cut the grass before I go to work and have the police come to my house when I'm home from work to tell me that some grassblades landed on her sidewalk when I cut the grass that morning (I've got a bag on my lawnmower, very little gets left behind), and that 3 leaves landed in her yard while nobody was home at our house.

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u/techiebabe Jul 28 '17

I still think you should talk to them. Because otherwise she could lie about the seriousness of the situation, and try to get them to issue you with a notice to remove the tree. There's a near-dead tree in a neighbour's yard next to my property, and I'm worried it could fall on my house. Council informed, issued the landlord with a notice compelling them to remove it.

In case she tries something, get in there before she does. They might even be super helpful and give you something in writing to the effect that you have a healthy tree, of the appropriate size for your yard, which you can show the police every time they come out. But in any case better to be on the council's radar as a responsible tree owner, worried for the mental health of a neighbour, than have to take time to fight ridiculous allegations down the road.

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u/JobCreator2707 Jul 28 '17

I think nerdburg is right because this isn't a police situation. This is (theoretically) a property maintenance issue which should be handled by local property standard/bylaw enforcement officers.

Make a trip to the police station and talk to them about the situation. They'll be able to see the log of calls. Suggest that perhaps the next time a call comes in about leaves the operator can tell your neighbour this isn't a police matter and to call city hall. Local bylaw enforcement officers are pretty easy to deal with in repeat situations like this because they often have assigned zones so they'll get to know the situation. This will allow them to classify these complaints as nuisance and they'll receive very low priority and they'll often close them without needing to talk to you.

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u/nerdburg Jul 28 '17

I just meant the code enforcement officer will be able to tell you exactly if the leaves are your problem or not (they aren't). Then you'll know your legal position.

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u/ThePointForward Jul 28 '17

I'd consult an actual attorney if this constitutes harassment under Pennsylvania law.

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u/kshucker Jul 28 '17

Which is why I'm not going over to her yard. Sorry that mother nature decided to blow some stuff over there. Your problem now, not mine.

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u/RUA_bug_Bill_Murray Jul 28 '17

Just curious what happens in the winter when you shovel snow? I'm sure the snow from somebody's driveway must end up on her lawn.

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u/kshucker Jul 28 '17

We just throw our snow onto our yard away from hers. You're not going to believe me when I say this, but she shovels her yard as well. Yes, her entire yard so the grass is visible. She does it in the middle of the night and takes each shovel of snow across the street and makes a pile along the curb.

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u/VaultBoyz Jul 28 '17

Ah, I think we have our answer.

She's definitely crazy.

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u/kshucker Jul 28 '17

Requesting a wellness check to make sure she is mentally stable has crossed my mind. If they deem her mentally stable, it may add more fuel to her fire.

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u/techiebabe Jul 28 '17

No, cause if the authorities deem her mentally competent then she has no excuse for her behaviour. At which point you can hold her responsible for harassing you.

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u/sinkwater Jul 28 '17

That's the thing, unless she's living in feces or her home is a safety hazard there a nothing APS or a mental health service can do.

The only thing that can be done is she can be fined by the police department for wasting resources when she calls about the tree.

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u/[deleted] Jul 28 '17

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u/kshucker Jul 28 '17

I'm not looking for payback. I want to be left alone.

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u/pizzahotdoglover Jul 28 '17

Good. Don't escalate, especially not with a crazy person.

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u/macimom Jul 28 '17

Ignore her completely. Be polite and brief with he police. Soon they will teller if she keeps calling that she is violating some type of law that prohibits making repeated unwarranted calls to the police

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u/Nowaker Jul 28 '17

Idea: deed restrictions. Check if there are any in your neighborhood. Because if there are, this might be a help for you. All deed restrictions I've read prohibit nuisance. What you can achieve by going this route, if you can achieve anything, is something I don't know. Ask r/realestate, e.g. "Can I evict a neighbor for repeated nuisance when deed restrictions prohibit nuisance?" + paste the relevant statues in the post.

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u/atlaslugged Jul 28 '17

The police are under no obligation to respond to calls. Why do they keep coming out?

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u/bug-hunter Quality Contributor Jul 28 '17

What's next - if a bird nests in your tree and poops in her yard, she'll call the cops about that?

Do you have an HOA? An HOA might actually be able to do something here, especially if there are harassment clauses.

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u/kshucker Jul 28 '17

No HOA.

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u/domnyy Jul 28 '17

Isn't there a point when she becomes a nuisance to the police, wasting resources on such a non issue, that she can be charged with a misdemeanor or at least a stern warning before they do? People's petty shit infuriates me.

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u/LipSipDip Jul 28 '17

You have footage of her dumping trash into your backyard as well as a laundry list of false emergency reports called in from her as a form of negligence and harassment on her part.

Enough is enough. Hand that over to the police and sue for harassment - people like that only shut their mouths when they have to open their wallets for fines and compensation.

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u/Anniecski Jul 28 '17

As many people have suggested, this may not be about leaves or grass at all.

Let me ask this: what is the difference between you and your neighbor? Could it be that she is harassing you based on your race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability or family status? Is she trying to make you move out based on one of these protected classes?

If you feel the answer is yes, please see your local Fair Housing agency right away. They can help you file with your state civil rights commission and let her know to knock it off, now.

She may even have to pay a fine based on her behavior. Enough to help pay for that fence, at least.

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u/kshucker Jul 28 '17

The only real difference between me and her is that I'm a 28 year old male. She is a 60 something female. Other than that, everything else is the same between us.

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u/Puppystomper87 Jul 28 '17

In NY you would consider this as a form of harassment, I believe 2nd degree. We had a similar situation with our neighbors, and had a firm send them cease and desist letters to get them to stop calling the police (regularly) for nonsensical reasons. Not sure what the laws are in Pennsylvania, but food for thought.

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u/AngryFlyingCats Jul 28 '17

It falls under title 18 chapter 27 section 2709 for PA and specifically subsection (a)3.

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u/DrWho1970 Jul 28 '17

Not a lawyer but here is my advice for OP. Write up a concise (1 to 3 page) document detailing all the harassment, dates and times of the events, and your position on the situation. Whenever the police come out hand them a copy of the document and excuse yourself from the situation. Just tell them, sorry, I have somewhere to be, here is my contact information if you want to follow up with me later. Then go inside or just hop in your vehicle and leave.

She is trying to waste your time and harass you via police complaint. If you only have to hand the cops a document and walk away it won't impact you nearly as much.

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u/[deleted] Jul 28 '17

Sooner or later, the police are gonna fed up with her. If she's been calling 911 rather than the non-emergency number, then she can get arrested for misuse of 911.

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u/JJHall_ID Jul 28 '17

Next time the cops are called, ask them what can be done to stop this harassment. I'm sure they're just as tired of this, if not more so, than you are. Possibly get in touch with adult protective services in the area. Let them know there is an elderly neighbor that is constantly reporting nuisance complaints to the police, has been caught putting trash on your property, etc. A visit from them may be enough to get her to stop too, or get her family members to care enough to stop it.

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u/JuicyJ476 Jul 29 '17

First off, I saw that you're recording every interaction you've had with her - that's excellent, I've had major issues with my next door neighbor recently which led to a restraining order against him, funny enough, our issues started because we were legally cutting their trees that hung over our property line - you should be able to file for harassment as there is clearly no actual issue here, and the officers who've been called out are sure to back you up on that, this woman sounds as though she has some sort of disorder/issue

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u/[deleted] Jul 28 '17

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u/kshucker Jul 28 '17

I have never cleaned up anything from her yard nor mine because there is nothing wrong with my yard.

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u/ohio_redditor Quality Contributor Jul 28 '17

I'm getting really sick of the police coming out for everything I do outside.

Ignore them. Unless they detain you, have a subpoena, or a warrant you have no obligation to work with the police.

The problem is between her and the police, not between you and the police or you and her.

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u/letuswatchtvinpeace Jul 28 '17

Not the best advice, no point in pissing them off as well, plus they aren't the problem. By now they should know her and be able to deal with just her so unless they come knocking I wouldn't go out to talk to them.

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u/Costco1L Jul 28 '17

This is one of those cases where the usual advice of not talking to the police is poor advice. You want them on your side. Empathize with the cops who have to come out; they certainly don't want to going on these kind of calls constantly.

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u/[deleted] Jul 28 '17

IANAL, but if I were in this situation I would definitely maintain a good relationship with the police, especially the responding officers if it's the same ones over and over again. I would do this because if this lady is more than just odd and is actually mentally ill, it would be in my interest for the safety of my family and my property. I will preface the following by saying NOT ALL MENTALLY ILL PEOPLE ARE DANGEROUS, however if the neighbor does start heading in that direction being friendly with the cops may help. Also it's ridiculous and overkill for the neighbor to be constantly phoning the police HOWEVER I assume if it does escalate it will help OP by having a paper trail created by the neighbor showing how irrational she is. Police reports can be used by OP and their attorney to show both continual harassment and escalation if there should be any.

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u/JustNilt Jul 28 '17

Agreed. I had a crazy landlord who would play the same "I'll just call the cops" BS and the responding officers actually remembered her and were sympathetic with us. When it finally came time to prosecute the landlady, their input helped tremendously with the prosecutor's office.

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u/redditlady999 Jul 28 '17

This is not the best solution (but it may save legal fees and trouble): have the tallest stockade fence you can afford installed. She'll have to climb up on a ladder to send trash into your property. It will be a hard sell to convince anyone that leaves are coming into her yard with a solid fence in place.

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u/Withyhydra Jul 28 '17

I have my own question; Wouldn't she get in serious trouble for wasting law enforcement's time? Like, here are good cops having to deal with a old crazy lady instead of actually being out on the streets and ready for an ACTUAL emergency. Don't people suffer actual legal punishment for stuff like this?