Apartment manager charges burglary victims for damage

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by JESSE JONES / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on April 11, 2011 at 5:38 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 30 at 6:46 PM

TACOMA, Wash. – Burglars hit a Tacoma family and stole thousands of dollars worth of items during the holidays. They made a mess, too. But, the apartment managers insisted the victims pay for the damage done by the thieves.

"All of the drawers were turned over clothes were everywhere," victim Allen Belin said.

"Everything was ransacked," his wife, Candis, said.

The burglary took place four days before Christmas. Windows were busted and presents were stolen.

"It was pretty devastating. I was pretty depressed for a while," Candis said.

Two months later, the couple got a $1,100 bill from the apartment manager for the damage caused by the thieves.

"I'm thinking, 'Whoa. Why would I be responsible for that?'" said Candis.

The couple submitted the police report and crime scene photos to the managers. They wouldn't budge.

"It doesn't even sound right to me. It seems all they care about is, 'When do we get our money? So what if you've been broken into.' It's how it feels. They don't care," said Allen.

The couple has renter's insurance, but that doesn't cover damage to the building. That should be handled through the apartment owner's policy.

"The tenant's duties state they are responsible for the people under their control, their guests, things like that. But when a burglar breaks into your house, you have no control over that," said Jonathan Grant with the Tenants Union of Washington.

Since the couple wasn't having a Christmas party and didn't invite some burglars over to bust up their house, they shouldn't have to pay for the repairs.

"So for a landlord to say that tenant is responsible for the damage done to the building from that burglar is inappropriate," said Grant.

I called the lawyer for the management company and asked if it would drop Allen and Candis' charges, which it did.

The suspects in the burglary have been arrested, Pierce County Sheriff's Department spokesman Ed Troyer said. It's believed they are responsible for at least a dozen more burglaries in the area.

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