UPDATE Oct. 7, 2021: Since this story originally aired, police say the loud music and offensive sounds have ceased. Police released a statement on Twitter giving information on the results of their response.
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Several residents in a Salem Lakes cul de sac are fed up with their neighbor after they say he’s taunted them from behind his front door for more than a year.
In the past, Jannique Martinez said music would play loudly over her neighbor’s speakers, shaking her home. Recently, after alerting police about the music, Martinez said her neighbor has retaliated by playing racial slurs and monkey noises.
“Whenever we would step out of our house, the monkey noises would start,” explained Martinez. “And it’s so racist and it’s disgusting.”
Martinez recorded some of the audio on her cell phone. She said the noises and slurs continue even when her school-age children are playing outside.
“My son is terrified of him. Terrified, terrified,” Martinez said about her child. “The N-word situation… they came to me and said, ‘Mom, what’s that?’ I didn’t subject my kids to that. I didn’t think they would ever have to learn what this means.”
Her family isn’t the only one feeling harassed by the neighbor’s antics. Other families in the cul de sac have songs played while they’re outside as well.
“The minute I open my front door, those lights blink, or my music, or ‘my song’ comes on. Soon as they get to their driveway, it blinks, they have a specific song too,” Martinez said pointing to a neighboring home.
In addition to the sounds, neighbors are concerned about the eight home security cameras on his property.
“We are constantly under surveillance. There are a total of eight cameras that we know of,” Martinez explained.
A Virginia Beach police spokeswoman told WAVY News they’ve responded to a total of nine complaints about the neighbor’s antics. Seven of those calls were for nuisance complaints and another three were in reference to a parking/traffic complaint. So far, there have not been any criminal charges pressed against the neighbor in question.
Police tell 10 On Your Side the complaint would have to match certain criteria before the possibility of criminal charges would be on the table.
Virginia Beach police released a statement about the issue Wednesday.
Still, Martinez feels like nothing has been done to make her, or her neighbors, feel safe at their homes.
“I actually felt like… helpless a little bit. Because I’ve gone to the magistrate, I’ve gone to civil court, I’ve talked to a lawyer. I’ve done everything in my possession to do it the right way.”
Neighbors were told there’s a fine line of when police can actually step in — and having a racial slur played over a recording may not meet that line.
“According to the law, it’s just a statement or a phrase or he’s not doing enough or bodily harm or threats to my family,” said Martinez. “Why does it have to go that far before something that can be done? People shouldn’t have to live like this. I spent 11 years in the military. My husband is also in the military. We fought for this country, but yet there’s no one to fight for us.”
After our original reporting on Friday, an investigator with the Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia reached out to 10 On Your Side looking to make contact with the Martinez family.
They are actively looking into the situation to see what can be done for them. According to their site, a division of their team works to protect minorities from harassment in their neighborhoods.
They say harassment can include interference, coercion, threats, or intimidation.
On Friday night, neighbors gathered to protest what they called racial and inappropriate actions. Many were onsite holding signs that said things like “love thy neighbor” and “love wins.”