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View Full Version : Is it illegal to explore an abandoned building?


ņaņi
06-06-2003, 07:06 PM
Some of my friends recently told me about their trip to this abandoned insane asylum in my town. they went their, explored a little, got thouroughly freaked out, and came back safely.

Was what they did harmless fun though, or was there a real danger that they could get caught? And if so, what could happen to them? In California, what, if anything do the police do? Who owns abandoned buildings anyway?

Thanks

Mr. Blue Sky
06-06-2003, 07:13 PM
It's trespassing. SOMEBODY owns the building, even if it's the bank that foreclosed on it.

occ
06-06-2003, 07:16 PM
The property is almost certainly still owned by somebody, so you'd get busted for trespassing. If its an old asylum, the property is likely owned by the state.

Not that I don't think exploring old, weird buildings is cool -- but yeah, you can get in legal trouble for doing it.

MaryEFoo
06-06-2003, 07:17 PM
It's trespassing.

You can look up the ownership at the County Clerk's or Assessor's office. If no one has been paying taxes on it, it will come up for auction, and you can buy your very own insane asylum, and tell the cops they can't come in.

MaryEFoo
06-06-2003, 07:18 PM
Simulpost.

Trigonal Planar
06-06-2003, 09:28 PM
Its illegal, but lots of people do it.

Head on over to google and look up "Urban exploration". It looks like a lot of fun.

msmith537
06-06-2003, 09:55 PM
Originally posted by ņaņi
Was what they did harmless fun though, or was there a real danger that they could get caught? And if so, what could happen to them? In California, what, if anything do the police do? Who owns abandoned buildings anyway?
[/B]

Assuming they didn't break anything, the only legal risk is probably a "you kids shouldn't be here" from the cops.

There is, however, a very real danger of injuring yourself if the structure is unsound. You could step on glass, fall through a floor, get hit by falling debris, and so on.

cdhostage
06-06-2003, 10:09 PM
It's trespassing, but more importantly, if it says "Condemned" or "Stay Out" or "Danger" of any sort, then you can't sue the owners when you trip and break your ankle. :) I love automatic litigation. You were properly forewarned, so you shoul dhave avoided the place.

Now, if it's just abandoned you can sue the owner for damage to you.

This all assumes you got injured and have witnesses to say "The HOUSE did it!"

Derleth
06-06-2003, 10:25 PM
Look at it this way: Abandoned buildings can be death-traps. They aren't maintained and commonly aren't up to code in the first place, hence abandonment. What happens when people start traipsing through abandoned buildings and get hurt? Liability lawsuits, that's what. Even if the courts find in favor of the defendant, any lawsuit incurs expenses on both sides. Why should someone have to incur expense just to own a building that's not producing revenue? That's why tresspass laws are still in effect.

Flying_Monk
06-06-2003, 10:40 PM
You guys forgot the most important part: abandoned insane asylums are often haunted by the ghosts of inmates that died there. They can drive you crazy, or kill you. Happens in the movies all the time.

ņaņi
06-06-2003, 11:32 PM
Hmm... So lets say they were caught, and are minors. What happens to them? Google is rather lacking (or rather, my googling skills are rather lacking) in descriptions of specific laws and penalties for adults and minors.

FisherQueen
06-07-2003, 07:20 AM
I've done it a few times, but the abandoned buildings I've seen never feel safe to me. It won't be very entertaining if the floor collapses under me.

ralph124c
06-07-2003, 09:52 AM
Anybody remember the Iowa farmerwho had an abandoned house on his property? he boarded it up, and put "NO TRESPASSING" signs up..but somelocal kids kept breaking in. So he wired up a shotgun to blast smeone breaking in via the door..and the dumbass kid sued him and won!
The farmer was found guilty of constructing an "infernal machine"!

Doomtrain
06-07-2003, 10:04 AM
Originally posted by ralph124c
Anybody remember the Iowa farmerwho had an abandoned house on his property? he boarded it up, and put "NO TRESPASSING" signs up..but somelocal kids kept breaking in. So he wired up a shotgun to blast smeone breaking in via the door..and the dumbass kid sued him and won!
The farmer was found guilty of constructing an "infernal machine"!

And he would've gotten away with it if it wasn't for those blasted kids! :D

HeyHomie
06-07-2003, 10:12 AM
Go nuts (http://boards.academicpursuits.us/sdmb/showthread.php?threadid=53988&highlight=Abandoned+Buildings).

Diceman
06-07-2003, 02:18 PM
So he wired up a shotgun to blast smeone breaking in via the door..and the dumbass kid sued him and won!
Good. Pretty much every place in the civilized world makes it a crime to set up deathtraps.

Orange Skinner
06-07-2003, 02:46 PM
While I don't know what the punishment for tresspassing is (if your a minor or otherwise), in most cases I've read up on at urban exploration sites, the kids just get off with a warning from the cops...unless the property owners take the no tresspassing thing very seriously, still keep tabs on the property, and press charges. I have heard of that happening, but don't know of anyone who's gotten caught personally. (All my tresspasser friends are very cautious :) and have never had any problems, and they've been at it for some time).

If you or your friends are interested in this sort of thing, but are worried about getting caught, there are some abandoned places, that while uninhabited, you can still visit without any worries of whether or not what you're doing is illegal. ohiotresspassers.com has a page of links, one of which, the Mansfield Reformatory, holds overnighters for $50 bucks per person and lets guests roam around the place as much as they'd like with flashlights and cameras and so forth. (There might be a second place linked to through ohiotresspassers as well). If you surf around, you'll probably be able to find places like this closer to home.

Orange Skinner
06-07-2003, 02:50 PM
Sorry about the bad link there...I spelled "trespassers" wrong. Oh, the shame. :o


Fixed link (http://ohiotrespassers.com).

Susanann
06-07-2003, 03:09 PM
Originally posted by ralph124c
Anybody remember the Iowa farmerwho had an abandoned house on his property? he boarded it up, and put "NO TRESPASSING" signs up..but somelocal kids kept breaking in. So he wired up a shotgun to blast smeone breaking in via the door..and the dumbass kid sued him and won!
The farmer was found guilty of constructing an "infernal machine"!

I have done a lot of exploring old mines, houses, towns, buildings, farms, etc. for the most part, there is no problem, whether it reverted back to the state, or not. In most cases, they have reverted back to the state for non-payment of taxes. Exploring old places is fun.

However, do not steal anything, and do not take any metal detctors or shovels with you(an intent to steal).

The few that are still in private hands, some owners will let you go on the property, and some wont. Some will tell the local police that "officially" it is no trespassing, so they wont get sued, but they also say that they dont care if you go on it as long as you are not suing.

I am not a lawyer, but I have never seen an abandoned place that a cop would give you a ticket for, without warning you first, and esp if your purpose is to visit/find the owner with the intent of purchasing such property. But my experiences have been in open country, and not in cities. I would not take a chance going into any building in a city - that is a different story.

Yes, I remember the farmer very well. but I would not call the ones who stole from him "kids". The man was well in his 20's or late 20's, and had a beard and mustache.

The farmer rigged up a 12 guage shotgun to fire if the door was broken into and it was opened. It is called a "deadfall" which is illegal in most states now.

Sure enough, the criminal came back to steal some more(this abandoned house was on anther part of the farmers property, and not used anymore.

The criminal was charged with attempted larceny, fined $35, and paid his fine.

Then.....

The criminal sued the farmer, and won, a couple hundred thousand dollars. The farmers land and farm were put up for auction, and sold.

I saw a followup to this story, and they showed the criminal who claimed to be permanently paralyzed in his legs, but I saw him working at a gas station, "jumping", yes, jumping on his "paralyzed" legs, over the gas pump hose back and forth, all day. It was on film, and taken to the judge but they did not use it, and did not reduce the amount given to the criminal.

From what I understand, the last I heard, the farmers neighbors pooled all of their money together, purchased the farmers house which was sold at auction, back and gave it back to the farmer.

Mudshark
06-07-2003, 11:31 PM
It is illegal, and dangerous, but also very fun. Another good site is forgottenohio.com/abandoned

Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor
06-08-2003, 07:47 AM
Hobos & derelicts make use of abandoned buildings.
So do junkies.
It might not be a good idea to meet some of these people alone, at night, in an isolated area that is seldom patrolled by the Law, when nobody knows where you are.

IMHO.

Road Rash
06-08-2003, 08:23 AM
When I was 16, a buddy of mine wandered through an abandoned museum near the Astrodome. I was constructed to look like a castle and quite inviting. A private security guard, the owner, both with shotguns pointing at us, and a mean looking dog (a german sheppard, I think), were facing us when we obeyed the order to come out.

Road Rash
06-08-2003, 08:25 AM
Forgot to finish, he let us go with a warning, and our parents phone number.

waltcatb
06-08-2003, 01:58 PM
Yes, it is against the law to enter an abandon building. My son was arrested for it with 3 other boys.

Cillasi
06-08-2003, 02:05 PM
They can be charged with trespassing, B&E (breaking and entering) and burglary. If they are minors, they may end up with a juvenile delinquent record.

xvxdarkknightxvx
06-08-2003, 02:22 PM
ņaņi, does this asylum happen to be in Menlo Park (Edison), New Jersey?

waltcatb
06-08-2003, 06:27 PM
No, xvx, it happened in Pennsylvania and they were arrested for going into an old abandoned building.

waltcatb
06-08-2003, 06:30 PM
Right,Cillasi. They were only 12 and 13 years old.

astro
06-08-2003, 06:32 PM
You meddling kids!

waltcatb
06-08-2003, 07:38 PM
Astro, just shows you what is happing in the world today. Years ago the Cops would have brought you home to Mom & Dad for a good spanking. And you would never do it again.

astro
06-08-2003, 07:43 PM
Originally posted by waltcatb
Astro, just shows you what is happing in the world today. Years ago the Cops would have brought you home to Mom & Dad for a good spanking. And you would never do it again.

A perfectly good Scooby aside lost... like tears in the rain. :p

06-08-2003, 08:34 PM
Originally posted by ralph124c
Anybody remember the Iowa farmerwho had an abandoned house on his property? he boarded it up, and put "NO TRESPASSING" signs up..but somelocal kids kept breaking in. So he wired up a shotgun to blast smeone breaking in via the door..and the dumbass kid sued him and won!
Those kids should have just left it alone for years and waitied until the farmer got old and came down with Alzheimers, and one day went to check on the old farmhouse, and . . .

Mr Salads
06-08-2003, 09:07 PM
I filmed a 16mm short at an abandoned movie theater. It was up for sale, though, so I don't know if I did anything wrong. We didn't steal anything obviously; we took some shots of it and left. But if it's shown at festivals, I'm wondering about that...

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