I am a property owner in the town of Brownville. My land is clearly and properly posted “No Trespassing.”

On Jan. 5, while walking my dogs on my posted land, I encountered fresh four wheeler tracks in the snow. I called the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department for assistance. I also called my property line neighbors to advise them and confirm that the tracks were not theirs.

A deputy responded. I showed him the tracks and my posted signs. He acknowledged that my land was properly and clearly marked “Posted.” Together, we tracked the four wheeler across four property owners’ lands, through two electric fences, to where the tracks clearly disappeared into a garage in a residence several houses further down my road.

The deputy confronted the occupants (separate from me) and later advised me that they had admitted to being on my land with their four wheeler. However, he advised me that I would not be allowed to press charges because “they had a reason”. They told him a story in which they claimed the son got stuck, and the father got “lost” while “carefully” unsticking him.

The officer, albeit professionally and politely, advised me that he would not file a report or press charges despite my repeated requests to do so (I have had trespassing issues with these same people before). Despite the fact that my land is clearly and properly marked posted and their four wheeler clearly was driven directly past those signs and onto my land, he said the four wheeler was clearly tracked back to a garage at their residence and they admitted it was theirs and that they had been driving it when it trespassed onto my land (as well as several of my neighbors’ lands). Because they had a “reason” for trespassing, the case would “never stand up in court.”

How does that work? “Your honor, this guy robbed the bank, but Jefferson County is not pressing charges because he had a good reason.”

The deputy advised me that in order to enforce a trespassing charge, officers had to physically “catch them in the act.” Apparently in Jefferson County, property owners have but one right: Pay taxes.

We just paid our countywide property taxes to the tune of more than $2,000.

Aside from road plowing services, if we’re not allowed to enforce our rights as property owners, exactly what are we paying for?

Richard Monroe

Watertown

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(4) comments

rdsouth

One word: spikes.

JohnMcElroy

I think I have your answer but it is not a pretty one. Some citizens like myself live on a rural country road and every summer weekend "endure" Harley Davidson parades both Saturday and Sunday. Loud obnoxious Harley's and according to our NYS police they have free reign, the troopers say we are not going to bother them. Seasons change and lo and behold 4 wheelers traverse the snowy landscape and rural roads just like their cousin Harley Davidson. Signs or no signs these 4 wheelers trespass and here is the unfortunate response when we complain. People buy in this case and letter 4 wheelers knowing they have no legal place to ride them. But the important issue in America is SALES and jobs and Harley Davidson and 4 wheeler manufactures provide thousands of jobs. There is your reason why riders are not ticketed or bothered SALES and JOBS.

Empathy

Richard, I agree with you totally. When I had a compliant with the police it helped that the week earlier the violator closed the officers arm in their window at a traffic stop. Amazing!

Eagle24

You can always file a civil suite...to what end? You'd have to show damages or criminal intent...of which neither apparently apply. The neighborly thing would have been for the intruders to have let you know what happened... and apologize for same.. Not every action calls for an arrest....and resolving the issue without involving law authorities would have been the best approach. I'd rather the police be saving a life pulling a man from a burning building... Hope things work out..

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