Apartment Guru: My Neighbor Thinks I'm a Terrorist!
My neighbors and I have been at odds for many years now. Recently things have taken a really bad turn. I had to call the police on them for a party they threw back in June that lasted well into the morning. And now, another neighbor recently told me that she was contacted by the authorities asking strange questions about me. This is going to sound crazy, but I think my neighbors reported me as a potential terrorist threat.
I am of Greek and Portuguese descent, so I could definitely pass, appearance-wise, as Middle Eastern. Not to mention the fact that I set off fireworks from our roof at the Fourth of July and I am pretty sure this neighbor got pictures of me working with the explosives. (At the time I thought it was strange that the woman was taking pictures of me, but there were so many people around, I didn't think too much of it.)
I am really scared and don't even know where to begin to try and unravel what they might have done. Where should I start? What should I do?
-- Totally Not Armed and Dangerous
Dear Totally Not,
I can imagine your fear and frustration given your current circumstances, but I have to admit -- this problem is exactly the reason I warn almost every writer to avoid doing battle with a neighbor, at all costs.
If you are correct and your neighbor has reported you for something as serious as a terror threat, they might have done something that will negatively impact you for a long time. However, you don't know for sure if they have stooped to this incredibly low level.
Sgt. Scott Harvey, a police public information officer in Nicholasville, Ky., says, "My advice for this person is that they contact the `authorities' themselves and ask if they are being investigated."
You can feel 100 percent comfortable about asking your local police department if there is an ongoing investigation pertaining to you -- even offer to help them with it. In fact, I'd suggest that you return to the neighbor who told you that he or she was contacted to find out if they have any additional information -- the name of the investigator or their department. It might be easier than you think to locate the source of the problem quickly and deal with it swiftly.
As the sergeant wisely puts it, "Those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear from the police."
Going back to the issue of your neighborhood feud, I would definitely recommend that you head over to your neighbors' apartment with a cheesecake and an invitation to a building-wide party that you are going to host, and encourage them to join you in making amends. If they can get over their hostility, perhaps they will call back whomever they called in the first place and, if nothing else, help your community police department save valuable time and money by ending the wild goose chase they so callously started in the first place.
And best of luck to you!
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