It’s not always a beautiful day in the neighborhood. If you have reason to suspect that someone living near you is involved in something criminal, pay attention. Criminal activity can impact your ability to enjoy – or sell your home.

My Neighbors Might be Drug Dealers

Any person involved in the unlawful manufacture, cultivation, possession, sale, provision, or fortification of a place for the use of cocaine, methamphetamine, or other controlled substances should be reported to law enforcement. If you suspect drug activity near your home, protect yourself.  Avoid personal confrontation.

Possible Criminal Activity Near Your Home

If you experience possible vandalism, drug dealing,  auto theft, illegal camping or possible human trafficking near your home, report it to local law enforcement. Responsiveness to criminal activities demonstrates community involvement, and documents your attempts to identify concerns.


Vandalism is maliciously defacing, damaging, or destroying a person’s property. It’s a crime—report it to law enforcement.

Child Abuse/Neglect/Endangerment

Any abuse of a physical, emotional, sexual, or medical nature. Verbal, emotional, or psychological abuse are not usually criminal, but may be subject to intervention by Child Protective Services.

  • Physical Abuse is subjecting a child to pain and suffering resulting in non-accidental injury. This includes physical force perpetrated by a parent or other caretaker; emotional abuse; the use of criticism, ridicule, rejection or any other confidence-damaging tactics; sexual abuse; and enticing or coercing a child into sexual activity.
  • Neglect is the failure to provide food, water, shelter, or medical care for a child’s essential needs. When a child is left alone and the parent’s whereabouts are unknown, this is abandonment and clearly considered neglect. Failure to provide for the child’s educational and emotional needs is also neglect.
  • Endangerment is leaving a child unattended in a car or failing to keep a child safe from hazards in the home, i.e. illegal narcotics within a child’s reach, guns that are not locked down, a lack of sanitation, the presence of a vicious animal, access to an unattended swimming pool or anything that presents a danger.

Elder Abuse and Neglect

Physical abuse includes assault, sexual abuse, unreasonable physical constraints, prolonged deprivation of food or water is criminal and must be reported. Inappropriate use of restraints, including by chemical or psychotropic medication is also abuse.

Neglect should also be reported—it includes the following: failure to assist with personal hygiene; failure to provide clothing, shelter, and/or medical care; failure to protect against health and safety hazards; and failure to prevent malnutrition or dehydration.

Emotional abuse includes verbal assaults, threats, or intimidation; withholding emotional support; confinement; and subjecting the senior to fear, isolation, or serious emotional distress.

Sex Offenders – You can check to see if a sex offender lives anywhere near you—it’s public information. California’s Megan’s Law, enacted in 1996, mandates that the California Department of Justice must notify the public about registered sex offenders.

Harassment and Threats

If someone is intimidating, threatening, harassing or annoying you in person, by phone or mail, or subjecting you to abusive behavior, seek a temporary restraining order.

Disturbing the Peace

Willfully disturbing another person with loud and unreasonable noise can expect a visit from law enforcement.

Same goes for using offensive words to provoke someone in a public place.

If at all possible, consider mediation.

There are courts and government agencies that offer dispute resolution services between neighbors.



For victims of child abuse or neglect:


Child Abuse Prevention (

Regional advisors and agencies available to support mandated reporters of crime:

The California Department of Social Services

Victims of domestic violence, select the Resources tab on the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence website (

Adult Protective Services section of the California Department of Social Services (CDSS): (

Know Your Rights. Protect Yourself.

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Mary Catherine Wiederhold

Real Estate Attorney
1458 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA 94109

Mary Catherine Wiederhold
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Courtney Brown
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