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Police say California landlord staged invasion to oust tenants

Jason Green, The Mercury News on

Published in Home and Consumer News

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. -- Authorities say a South Bay landlord frustrated by late rent payments tried to force out her tenants, a family of four, by staging a home invasion Monday night.

Officers were dispatched to the home on the 2000 block of Rock Street in Mountain View about 8:15 p.m. for a report of an in-progress burglary, according to police spokeswoman Katie Nelson. They arrived to find five people in the front yard of the home.

Nelson said officers detained the people in the yard and located the occupants of the residence -- a father, mother and two children -- unharmed.

Officers learned through an investigation that Reenu Saini, 50, of Sunnyvale, Calif., had leased the home to the family but had become frustrated when they were late paying the rent, according to Nelson. In an effort to force the family from the residence, Saini allegedly contacted friends to come to the home and help physically remove them.

Nelson said the family refused to leave and one of the suspects allegedly cut off power to the home. One of the suspects -- identified as Steven Carling, 53, of San Jose -- then tried to use a knife to break open the door, "nearly coming into contact with one of the people inside, who was attempting to hold the door closed," according to Nelson.

Nelson said the mother, father and two children fled out the backdoor of the residence to safety.

"This was a deliberate attempt using scare tactics to evict a family from a home," said Lt. Armando Espitia in a news release. "There are civil procedures and remedies that landlords and tenants can pursue with regard to late rent payments, but unfortunately these individuals took extremely dangerous and unlawful steps that resulted in their arrest."


Saini was arrested and booked into Santa Clara County jail on charges of attempted robbery, burglary of an inhabited dwelling, conspiracy to commit a crime and unlawfully shutting off power to a home. As of Tuesday evening, she was being held on $75,000 bail.

Carling was arrested and booked on charges of attempted robbery, burglary of an inhabited dwelling, assault with a deadly weapon and conspiracy to commit a crime. The other suspects -- identified as 49-year-old Lori Walston, 49-year-old Brian Ross and 52-year-old Debra McNeil, all of San Jose -- were arrested and booked on charges of attempted robbery, burglary of an inhabited dwelling and conspiracy to commit a crime.

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