Sometimes persistence pays off.

After years of issues with the tenant and "sub-tenants" at the house next door, the house was sold on a short-sale.

But then the local transients started breaking into the vacant house, burning whatever they could find in the fireplace and removing anything of value -- as well as writing all over the walls and even using spray paint on the ceilings!

Windows at the back and side were broken out and you don't even want to know about the piles of trash and garbage on the side and backyard!

When we heard people in the house, we'd call the non-emergency Dispatch line to report a break-in. Although it wasn't a high priority, the Antioch police were great about showing up and even arrested and hauled off one individual to Martinez.

Luckily, thanks to a local real estate agent, I was able to obtain a contact number for the new owner of the house, which was a company back East, but it had a local representative in Brentwood.

She was very responsive, since she wanted the house to be secure before their contractors started work on it.

One night when I heard someone break into the house, I called her to let her know and she called the non-emergency dispatch line and even drove over and met me as we waited or the police to arrive. But unfortunately, the person who broke in was able to sneak out from the back into the field behind the house through the cyclone fence that had been cut.

But the two of us were relentless, and the next time I heard someone break-in, I called Dispatch, then the owner's representative who had left a key with me. This time the police were able to apprehend the individual -- and wouldn't you know it -- it was the same person they had arrested weeks before!

With the house now boarded up and signs posted thanks to the great work by Antioch's Code Enforcement personnel lead by Ryan Graham, the contractors were able to start their work!

It took four large commercial trailer loads to remove all the trash and garbage from inside and outside the house.

The landscape crew did a great job rototilling and installing a new sprinkler system and lawn. Then the interior of the house was gutted so that the walls and ceilings could be repaired and repainted.

The broken windows have been replaced and new window screens installed. The missing and damaged copper water pipes have been replaced and a new kitchen and bathroom units installed.

Of course the air conditioner and its copper refrigerant lines were lifted by the squatters, so a new heating and air conditioning system will need to be installed.

And the old garage door that the tenants used to throw their knives at has been replaced with a new roll-up door.

My neighbors and I are totally delighted to see this blight on our neighborhood finally brought up to neighbor standards.

So my advice to others who have had similar problems, find out who the owner(s) of the property are and call them. Keep in touch with Antioch Code Enforcement crew who has been making great strides with the worst properties; and as one in their "Top Ten" gets rectified, a new one is added to that list.

If you see or hear anyone breaking into a vacant home, call the non-emergency Dispatch line and call and leave a message with Code Enforcement (aka "Neighborhood Improvement").

Arne Simonsen is the Antioch City Clerk. He can be contacted at arne_simonsen@att.net.