Under Arizona law, a person who knowingly “destroys, removes, conceals, encumbers, converts, sells, obtains, transfers, controls or otherwise deals with property subject to a security interest with intent to hinder or prevent the enforcement of that interest” can be convicted of a class 6 felony. See A.R.S. 13-2204.
Along with the Arizona housing market meltdown, Arizona has seen a staggering number of foreclosures and short sales. Individuals desperate to salvage financial goods may be tempted to take out fixtures such as ceiling fans, built in appliances, or other items affixed to a foreclosing home. Many individuals feel that they are justified in taking them to their next residence after such an unfortunate ending to their living circumstances.
While the issues around secured creditors and mortgages are complex, the sad truth is most homes have mortgages in which the bank is a secured creditor. Removal of fixtures can be prosecuted under the Arizona criminal code with the theory that the removal of the fixtures causes devaluation of the home, thus hindering or preventing the sale of the home for its maximum value on the market.
A recent law enforcement trend is to create a mortgage task force in which various police agencies will stage a buy of home fixtures. If you have been charged or think you may be charged with defrauding a secured creditor, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney from JacksonWhite immediately. To schedule a free consultation with one of JacksonWhite’s white collar crime attorneys, call (480) 467-4370.