New Foreclosure Risk: Big, Bad Raccoons

Foreclosures can devastate entire neighborhoods. In addition to leaving people homeless, foreclosed houses that sit empty often fall into disrepair, posing safety risks, lowering property vales and decreasing a community's tax revenues. Now, add a new problem to the list: giant raccoons.

In Chicago, where there have been some 6,000 foreclosure filings since the start of the year alone, hard hit neighborhoods have been overrun by "raccoons as big as orangutans and bolder than ever before," as the the Chicago Sun-Times put it.

The masked marauders (along with occasional squatters of the human variety) move in when their former human occupants move out, and set about terrorizing the neighborhood.

For Wilma Ward, a Chicago resident whose home was invaded by one of the giant critters, it was far from an amusing matter. More like a Stephen King novel.

"I looked down the hallway and I saw a set of eyes...." she told the Sun-Times.