The groups of youths entering vacant homes and turning them into destructive party scenes might be choosing bigger targets, but they don't seem to be getting any smarter about it. In the latest such case to make a splash in the news, 16 teenagers were arrested after allegedly breaking into a multimillion-dollar mansion currently for sale. Partygoers were charged admission, then stole or ruined more than $1 million in property there, authorities allege. And of course some couldn't help but announce on social media their plans for the Nov. 23 "mansion party," then post photos of themselves celebrating into the next morning at the scene of the crime, say police.
The mansion in the Los Angeles suburb of La Habra Heights was listed at $21 million in 2010 by its owner, Romanian-born "trucking magnate" Nick Radoi, then had its price slashed to $7 million, Curbed reported in May. The five-bedroom house was still on the market at that price at the time of the break-in, said L.A. TV station KTLA, and is touted on its listing as a "private paradise," with photos showing a movie theater, gaming room, wine cellar, and a party room under a grottoed swimming pool.
Also shown in the listing are decorative items such as statues and suits of armor. Some of those ended up among the secluded home's stolen property that was recovered by Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies in their investigation of the incident. Among the pricier items taken from the mansion's absent owner but now held as evidence -- a stuffed snow leopard valued at a quarter-million dollars.
"They were actually bragging about the party, showing themselves within the residence, showing themselves carrying some of the stolen property," Sheriff's Dept. Capt. Tim Murakami said of the suspects, at a news conference Wednesday announcing their arrests. Thirteen of those arrested were minors, including three females, reported The Huffington Post. The news website also quoted a sheriff's spokesman as saying that it was the first "ghost-hosted party" that he knew of in the La Habra Heights area, but that such parties are becoming more common because of social media. Authorities estimate that this one attracted about 100 partiers.
AOL Real Estate has previously carried stories about the role of social media in targeting foreclosed homes for "Sharpie parties," at which youths break into vacant properties with the object of vandalizing them, including using felt pens to leave graffiti on their walls. But those reports of parties lately have broadened to included homes not foreclosed on, where owners are simply not present. Last year a homeowner reported being startled to see photos posted of a party at his house in Tega City, S.C., hosted by his daughter's teenage classmates. And in September, former NFL offensive lineman Brian Holloway learned via Twitter that one of his homes had been invaded and trashed as part of a Labor Day Weekend party attended by up to 400 teenagers.
In the La Habra case, KTLA also caught up with one of the suspects named in the investigation, who can be seen apologizing in the video below.