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Added Apr 17 2018

Big thanks in advance to anyone who takes the time to read all of this...

So, we had our old detached garage facing the alley behind our house completely demolished and rebuilt almost exactly a year ago because it was completely falling apart. It's nothing fancy, but broke our bank and it works.

Less than a month after it was built, I noticed the first major ding on the garage door… Fast forward a year, and the garage door is severely dented, dinged, warped and getting worse by the week. It is very apparent that our neighbor across the alley from us is using our garage door as a stopper when they back out of their own driveway. But, we’ve never received a visit or a note... no one has attempted to take responsibility for what I image to be at least a dozen pretty major impacts and who knows how many smaller “taps” at this point.

My husband has walked around to knock on their front door, but as the old adage goes: the lights are on, but nobody’s home. And frankly, I’m really worried about confronting them… If these people have no concern for damaging our property over and over like it’s some kind of joke, I worry about my two small children. What kind of people have such a blatant indifference toward their neighbors?

I called 311 and was sent to the non-emergency police line. The guy I talked to was sympathetic but said gathering evidence was the key. Once we have evidence, we can bring it in to file a report and go from there. I have an IP security camera ordered, but I’m worried our wifi won’t stretch all the way to the alley, my dad suggested hiring a private investigator – does anyone have experience with anything like that?

However this goes, I can’t imagine a good outcome. Either we’re total chumps that just take this beating or face possible retaliation. It’s a complete garbage fire either way. I guess I’m turning to my Everyblock neighbors for encouragement or any ideas I may be missing.

Thanks for reading!

  • If your Wi-Fi doesn’t reach you could use a WI-Fi extender. Or you could get a wired security camera installed on the garage

  • LadyHawk justdointheright35thward

    WoW!! That's awful. You have every right to be furious.

  • PFitz in OIP OIP home owner

    Put your City provided trash bin in front of the door where they are hitting it. Place it wheels parallel to the garage door on the apron, right next to the garage door, not in the alley. These bins are durable and will ding body work. If they drive a van or SUV, this is highly effective.

  • robin in WRP I support a 28th Amendment 4Free & Fair Elections!

    Put up a camera. Sorry your neighbor is awful

  • Write a letter and leave it in their mail stating you need to talk or keep a look out if possible when they are heading in/ out. Hopefully you can connect to have the convo, but unfortunately without proof they may deny deny deny

  • We had a neighbor stealing from our back husband wrote in chalk on the porch “We Know It’s You” more stealing! The ominous message apparently was enough to scare them!

  • paul in jefferson jefferson park resident

    I built a garage 15 years ago and the door was just installed and the neighbor across the alley dented it. I confronted him about it and got the usual I didn't do it responce.When I sold the home it had dozens of dents in it. My advice is good luck collecting anything . I guess you can dent his door or talk to him.

  • That's truly awful and I'm sorry for your situation. Looks like deep dimples at the base of the door, and makes me think it's more than just a car backing into it. Whatever the case, cameras and lighting will help you know with certainty what's going on -- and if those 'neighbors' are using your garage door to "drive by Braille." Just sad.

  • Some of those dents are really low. Do they have kids ? Looks like someone was shooting hockey pucks at it.

    But most of it does look like car bumps.

    Hang some ballons at that level filled with White Paint.

  • As for hiring a PI, the cameras and lighting route will ultimately be less expensive. You'll want cages around lighting, and hoods or cage around cameras; historically posts re cameras/lighting to combat vandalism mention the equipment itself got vandalized. If that happens, hiring a PI is your ultimate "Hail Mary play."

  • Buy a game camera at Walmart you can hide it. It does not need wifi.

  • Jen Baron JBaron

    Wow, that door is definitely a mess. As the police say, you need to gather evidence so camera's are the way to go. As NW Sider says, cage the lighting and cameras so they can't be vandalized. It does look like more than a car has messed with the door. It's not clear if your husband actually spoke to the neighbors? I think it's important to talk to them and try not to be too emotional or confrontational, just matter of fact. Ask if there are solutions to help them with their issue IF they are having trouble with your garage while backing out? And perhaps there are other neighbors you can talk to also who can help out in the situation? If more neighbors come together to have your back it might not turn into the scary situation you imagine? Either way, SO sorry this is happening to you.

  • Bryan Gleason Logan Square born & raised

    I'm sorry, that's a bummer! Have you seen your neighbor at all? Are they perhaps elderly and not so good at driving (or hearing doorbells) any more? It could be that they aren't totally aware of what they're doing.

    Do you know any of your neighbors nearby that you could ask about those neighbors? That'd be my first instinct.

    Not to excuse them, just a possible explanation. Good luck.

  • And along with Gonzo & Bryan, considering all possibilities, are any other garage doors along your alley in that condition?

  • I recommend Arlo cameras , no wires , no monthly fees easy setup . But you will need WiFi .

    And the only way to know will be to see it , record it . No way to deny that .

  • Thanks a ton for everyone's advice! To answer a few questions, we have been in our house for 10 years, but have never met the people across the alley – I think there have been several families in/out over the years. When my husband went to their front door to try to talk to them, he sent me a pic of a piece of paper near the mailbox with about 6 last names scrawled on it (single family home). No doorbell, and they didn't answer for knocking. Not sure which of the names is the car's owner – only one car parks in back.

    No other garages around us are damaged. The one time I saw them pulling out of their drive from our upstairs back room and yelled for husband to grab camera and run out to the alley. He was too late to see it, but we both HEARD the impact. when he got to the alley, he said it looked like three youngish dudes as they sped away in the car – 2 in front and one in back. So either just super crappy drivers or completely careless.

    On a bright note, my security camera just arrived in the mail. Let the spying begin!!

  • Personally, I'd be afraid to confront, face-to-face, people who would have such little regard for other people's property. I'm sure they can hear and feel the impact!

    Are they renters? Possibly you could contact the landlord.

  • I would get the camera evidence and call the PD. No need to talk at this point, they know what they are doing.

  • OParker Native Chicagoan

    Six family names on a single family dwelling..could be a building violation.Report and let them investigate's a long shot ,but maybe..

  • OParker makes a good point. You could check the county assessor's website for that address and check its classification; if they're renting rooms, the IL Dept of Revenue might be the next team knocking at their door.

  • Wow. Those "neighbors" are a real piece of work! I'm so sorry. Film them and sue them for all they are worth. And, if they are illegally cramming a bunch of people in that building, nail them for that too. Good luck!

  • pattymelt is mostly in charge

    I'm sorry someone beat up your garage. I'm not sure how much this would cost to repair but did you look into filing a claim with your homeowner's insurance?

    Have you seen the inside of their garage? If it's packed to the gills then that might limit how they swing their car out of their garage. Can you put something huge and heavy that nobody would want to steal on the apron for a while to teach the culprit how to drive and avoid dinging your car palace? Though not sure what object would work for that and if they hit it hard enough, they might push it over or into the garage and cause more damage

    I agree you might want to attach something to it that will help identify the culprit, the balloons with paint is an interesting idea but not sure that is the way to go. Maybe post on a car forum on Reddit to see if they have any ideas.

    If you don't want to file a claim and don't want to pay to fix it yourself, you could have some artsy fun and paint the spots like they illustrate blows in a comic book--KAPOW, WHAM, etc. Or they sell them as stickers, see this room:

    Or camouflage it some other artsy way.

  • HoneyBadger resident

    I’d not visit or confront the neighbor at all - this isn’t the 1950s where one could, 99% of the time, expect to be greeted by a rational like-minded human being. Nor would I assume the person didn’t know they backed into your garage door. Get the camera proof you need and the license number of the car you said parks there and let your insurance company and/or the police handle it. Wish you luck; let us know the outcome. Decent people have respect for others and the property of others. Sorry this happened to you.

  • Jen Baron JBaron

    Nationalj- I saw a great idea last night I thought I'd share. It was a little article of home ideas, and the tip was to cut those foam pool noodles in half (lengthwise) and then put them up on the sides of your garage walls so you don't dent your car doors when you open them. SO I thought, gosh, that might be a good idea to put them on the outside of your garage door, horizontally, across the area where the car keeps hitting the garage door? Maybe 2 or 3 rows? Just a wacky idea but I thought it might help save that door from being dented more?

  • I had a neighbor that did this. I used the garbage cans as another poster suggested. He came and complained it was hard to get his SUV out of the garage and could I not leave them there (I don't drive much). I told him I was protecting my garage door from people who keep backing into it. He said no more and promptly left.

  • I love these ideas. But as much as I want to protect our garage from more damage, I really want this guy to feel our pain as well. Maybe if I put a fresh coat of oil-based (slow drying) paint on the pool noodles each morning before we leave?

    My prob with the garbage cans is my mind races to the worst case scenario where my husband with two kids in the backseat has to get out of our running car when he returns home each day to move the garbage cans to get in our own garage then he or the car gets jumped... may be dramatic, but seriously! The nerve!

  • @nationalj - Based on what you & your husband witnessed and heard with the carload of youngish guys bashing into your garage door, then driving off like it was nothing, I'm guessing: a) the driver/s didn't go to Driving School in this country, b) may not hold have a valid driver's license, c) don't have insurance, d) are perpetually drunk/high, or e) a combination of some/all of that.
    Whatever the case, you are wise to use hard evidence and public authorities to resolve the issue.
    There's no excuse for what they're doing (even if their garage is packed full of storage; but then they shouldn't be able to load passengers while parked inside it). Hopefully you'll not only get it to stop, but also create enough attention to them & that dwelling that they'll want to avert further attention and will shape up (or ship out).

  • Pattymelt, my small garage is packed to the ceiling with things I had to take out of my basement after a flood last fall. However, I have NEVER hit the garage across the alley from me, even when there was a foot of snow. It takes a few turns of the wheels, but it's no big deal.

    I think the occupancy of the home should be reported. Six names seems excessive. Eventually, that door will refuse to open from the damage.

  • Here's the kicker, guys... they don't use their garage! It's maybe a one-car garage and I've never seen it open. They have a little driveway from the alley to the back of their house. It makes it easy to see when the car is there or not, and it's wide enough to easily pull out of. Car is a little sportscar, not big at all.

    I just called 311 to open a building complaint. The house was last sold at the end of 2016 so these folks have not been there very long. Cook County Assessor has it listed as single family home. Looking forward to setting up the camera – waiting on a wifi extender right now.

  • Report all Illegal sublets that you see.

  • paul in jefferson jefferson park resident

    If police don't see it happening even if his car was parked their without driver in it, your out of luck.
    The laws go against you.

  • @ nationalj, can you share what IP camera you ordered? That's next on my never-ending list, too! Time to checkout what's easy, effective. and works with our setup.

  • Sure! I ordered a Blink XT. More info here. I’ve messed around with it in the house and it’s great so far. Will let you know how it works outside and at night:

  • paul in jefferson jefferson park resident

    What happens if buildings don't have internet in it

  • Waveland_5400 Retired and loving it!

    nationalj - I have a 7 camera blink system and it's just what you need. My garage is detached and our lots here on Waveland are over 200 feet long. I mounted my Blink sync module near a window on the second floor of the house and it's probably 90 feet or so to the camera location. It works fine. Just be careful where you mount the sync module and try to keep as little between it and the camera as you can. Any questions..... just hollar.

  • Waveland_5400 Retired and loving it!

    nationalj - Oh and then you have to ask yourself the question, "Now I've got a video, now what?"

  • paul in jefferson jefferson park resident

    I have a rental and no internet at building will it work , thanks.

  • Waveland, that’s great to hear! We were struggling with where to put the module - upstairs back bedroom sounds perfect. My calls to 311 and local police both had the same instructions: gather evidence first, then come in and talk about filing a criminal damage report after that.

    Paul, unfortunately you DO need a strong wifi signal to run this type of camera. There are other kinds of wired systems that don’t need WiFi though. They tend to be more expensive though.

  • I have a little problem with people not picking up after there pets , One of my cameras, that was put in to monitor the front door , captures a big part of the front yard. Well I have a video of the kid( more like teeneger) that walks his huge dog and let’s him take a massive dump on my yard and just walks away.

    Am I really suppose to go to the cops with this ?

    Also it continues to happen:

    Asking here since someone said , you have the video now what ? That’s my question what now ? I understand damage to a garage door is more of a cop problem , but is dog poop also a call the police thing ?

  • @Danny: I think the issue with the garage door would be more of a civil matter, meaning the person hitting the garage could be sued for damages to property in small claims court. I don't really know the process, but perhaps with a video the owner could go to the police station to make a complaint and get a police report, then sue for cost of replacement of the door, representing themselves in court. The problem might be all the damage that has happened before but not videoed. It would be hard to prove the same person did all the damage, even if they did, because there is no proof for that.

    Don't know.

  • Danny if you can figure out where this person lives it might be worth paying them a visit or leaving them a note. If they come at a time when you are around you could just go out and give him a bag and ask him to clean up. I chased someone down with a bag of their dog's poop once. I smiled sweetly handed it to her and said "I think this belongs to you". We never had another problem with that owner.

  • Danny. Chi-gal's got a point. The ppl who let their dogs "go anywhere" and not pick it up aren't banking on getting caught. Pretty sure they can get fined for it. Got it on camera? Even better!

    If you are home and see him leaving it behind again, try to find out where he or the dog lives (he could be a paid dog walker). That info will help if you have to pursue further action.

    Reminds me of hearing a story from long ago of a family who walked their dog on the block and consistently left their dog's droppings on neighbor's lawns without picking it up. Someone with a very well manicured lawn finally had enough and had learned where the offenders lived. One evening after watching it happen again, he scooped their dog's leavings into a paper sack and rolled the top of the bag down tight, after night fell so it was dark, he brought it to the offender's house, left it on their concrete front stoop and rang the doorbell... No more issues.

  • I have no idea where he lives but I am trying to keep an eye out for him , this already happen twice .

    It’s funny how he just stands there not knowing his being recorded . He looks around to make sure no one is looking, and then walks away like nothing happen.

  • Mike Bayne Dunning area New to the area and have 2 children.

    Those dings at the bottom are not from a car, because they are notched and a number would stop the tires from from doing it.

  • Well, we're on our way to finding out. Camera is installed and so far we've captured several alley cats and the guy that tapes flyers to all of our garages. Nothing nefarious yet – if the camera itself is a deterrent, that's fine by me! I'm pretty sure our neighbors saw it being installed. So far, I 100% recommend the Blink camera product. Super easy to install.

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