Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Cops Pinch Pair Allegedly Working As Tag Team, Snatching Possession Of Vacant Foreclosure Homes By Breaking In & Changing Locks, Then Renting Them Out To Unsuspecting Tenants

In Kennewick, Washington, KEPR-TV Channel 19 reports:
  • Kennewick police said they have arrested a tag team responsible for an elaborate housing heist in the Tri-Cities. And they think there may be more victims.

    Police reports said Maggie Zieske, who also goes by the last name Lawson, and Steven Hartmann, who also goes by Nick, were targeting and renting out empty homes that were pending foreclosure or were already foreclosed to unsuspecting victims.

    The pair would force their way into the homes and change the locks, and then supply fake rental agreements or rent-to-own agreements, leading the renters to believe they were legitimate.

    One victim, who already came forward, owned a home on East 22nd Street and was unaware the two had illegally rented it out.

    KEPR talked to the next-door neighbor of Zieske and Hartmann, who was not surprised. “That sort of thing is just normal in our neighborhood, that people are being arrested in our neighborhood,” said Samantha Elder. “It's just kind of a scary, sad thing as a parent.”

    Police said they know of three victims in Kennewick, two in Benton County, and at least one in Pasco. They are also checking with Spokane police because they believe the scam could have stretched into their jurisdiction.

    Twenty-year-old Hartmann and 32-year-old Zieske have both been booked in the Benton County Jail. They are being held on three counts of residential burglary.

    Police are asking if anyone recognizes the pair and have worked with them for housing to come forward. You may be a victim.

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