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Property Preservation Contractors Beware

Property Preservation contractors, make sure that when you go to a property you have your work-order in your hand, you may need more. You may never know who you are going to run into.

A suit was filed Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court, suing the Chicago Police after a Property Preservation Contractor’s were mistaken for burglars and they were arrested while trying to repair a lock on a vacant home’s door.

Jonathan Cooper was assisted by his wife Ashley Cooper on January, 29 2009 while rendering services as the owner and operator of J-Coop Corp., They were given a work-order to perform work on a foreclosed property, the suit stated the property was vacant. The neighbor observed the Coopers and Called 911, allegedly saying, “The house next door to mine is empty and there’s some people trying to break in to the garage.”

Chicago Police Officers Kevin M. Ryan and David. P. Griffin and others responded to the call and allegedly handcuffed and arrested the Coopers despite being furnished with a written work order that requested the property be locked and winterized and a running a search by name that came back clean for both Jonathan and Ashley, the suit said.

Neither Jonathan or Ashley were read their Miranda rights. They were taken into custody at the Chicago Lawn District police station where Ashley was allegedly strip-searched and Jonathan was charged with burglary -- possession of tools with the intent to commit a theft -- and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon for an unloaded handgun that was found in his vehicle's glove box, the suit said.

On Feb. 5, Officer Ryan allegedly falsely testified at a hearing to determine probable cause regarding the charges against Jonathan, allegedly saying that Jonathan never provided a work order and that the handgun was uncased and loaded at the time of the incident among other things, the suit said.

All charges against Jonathan were dropped, but he is seeking a punitive amount over $50,000 for two counts each of false arrest and imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress and one count of malicious prosecution.

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Comment by REO Rescue & Preservation on December 30, 2010 at 3:40pm
I always send my employees out in uniform, there are magnetic signs on vehicle.  They have a copy of the email from the Realtor approving the work.  The Realtor usually has their sign posted at the property.  We have never had a police problem.  I doubt, as Mr. Popeleski commented, that it would be necessary to make a trip to the county courthouse for every one of dozens of work orders we receive each week.
Comment by Frank Popeleski on January 2, 2010 at 1:45pm
There is a lesson to be learned here to. When I get an REO order, I ALWAYS go to the county court records and pull the final judgment. I fear that one day they may send a wrong address by mistake.
Comment by Jan Baron, RDCPro, CSP, BPOR on December 31, 2009 at 10:30pm
I'm not surprised; I'm from Chicago....I could tell you some stories.

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