She lives in a bedroom community of cul-de-sacs and picket fences, starter homes and soccer moms. Nice place. Quiet. People are neighborly, but generally keep to themselves.
Then the Bad People moved in.
In this case the Bad People are the scions of a local restaurant magnate who bought his twentysomething sons a house - most likely to get them the hell out of his own house. They are not a young couple just starting out. They are not cul-de-sac and picket-fence and bedroom community material. They are hellraisiers, all-night-partiers, tear-around-the-neighborhood-while-drunks, wannabee drug dealers - or possibly the real deal - , punks with no respect for private property and no concern for disturbing the peace. And, thanks to their well-connected father and family (or is it Family?), they have no worries that local law enforcement will present them with any significant problems.
Oh, neighbors have complained, complained about their drunk driving and their parking on other people's lawns, the beer bottles tossed everywhere, the vicious Pit Bull who got through their broken fence and ripped the guts out of a feeble, one-eyed, elderly beagle next door. They've complained to the local Homeowners Association, which collects fees and dictates rules and regulations and totally refuses to take any action against these individuals. They have complained to the police, and have had their vehicles vandalized (with an industrial-strength oven cleaner - the sort of thing that might be used in the restaurant industry), their gardens destroyed, paving blocks heaved through double-paned bay windows, SUV's revved outside their doors in the middle of the night. The neighbors have been on the receiving end of terroristic threats. The police refuse to do anything - including sending the occasional patrol through the neighborhood - until the neighbors have collected evidence proving that these things are being perpetrated by the individuals in question and are not just random, unconnected actions.
This is not a unique case. Similar situations have played out everywhere. A crack house or a drug dealer or a house occupied by an illegally large number of illegal immigrants appears in the middle of what was once a fairly pleasant residential neighborhood. Neighbors are terrified, police are seemingly unconcerned; those who make a fuss get their tires slashed or their porches torched for their trouble.
What can be done?
The way I see it, there are several options. Each one comes with its own problems.
1. Do nothing. Hope the problem will go away, hope things will get better on their own. It won't, and they won't. But you can always keep hoping.
2. Move. You will find that once Bad People have moved into a neighborhood, property values will go down, so you may not be able to get a fair price for your home. And who is going to want to buy it? There's a very good chance that as each home in the neighborhood is sold, more Bad People will move in, and things will get worse for those who have chosen to stay - or do not have the option of leaving.
3. Stay and fight. Usually this option requires getting the local media involved, and managing to hold their attention for more than two or three days. Sometimes this works; often it doesn't. Always there is a price to be paid, as you may find yourself villified by the very organizations you're trying to prod into action, and may find your brake lines cut or your house burned down with you and your children inside it.
4. Surveil. For those who choose not to move, a security system almost always becomes a necessity. Sometimes surveillance systems can be rigged to monitor criminal activity on the streets outside of your house. Of course, if the police do not want to get involved - if, for example, your neighborhood has been declared a sacrificial site, a place where a blind eye will be turned towards criminal activity in an effort to steer criminal activity away from other neighborhoods - you may find it difficult to get anyone to take any action. And making an audio record of things that go on in the streets is, in some cases, considered a criminal activity in itself. (At least, this was true some time ago.)
5. Hire private security. This is an extremely expensive and somewhat risky proposition. Private security firms, as I understand them, have no more rights to act against observed criminal action than any other private citizens. While their presence in a neighborhood may help to quell criminal activity, they can also have a chilling effect on the everyday lives of residents in the neighborhood. And hiring a private security firm that is trustworthy, reliable, and effective can be a bit of a trick. If you have a Homeowners Association that does more than just collect dues and threaten people who leave their Christmas lights up too long, this might be something for them to pursue.
Most people, I believe, choose options 1 or 2. Some choose option 3, and spend the rest of their lives having to fight - unless and until they choose to move. So what's the answer? I don't know. I've never have had to deal with this myself - not yet. If you have, I'd appreciate your input.