A New Jersey woman documented a terrifying situation involving a man from an extremist group breaking into and attempting to steal her home.
In a series of TikTok videos, the victim, whose name on the social media platform is Shanetta with the handle @regblackgrl, shared updates after a stranger changed the locks of a home she is renovating in Newark and began squatting inside. The man refused to vacate the premises.
Shanetta said she received threatening letters from a sovereign citizens group – an extremist group known to falsely claim ownership of property citing ancestral ties. She disregarded the notices after her lawyer said it was a scam.
Eventually, police got involved and removed the man from the home. She said in another video that the man was being released from custody, and she asked that police patrol her neighborhood more in order to maintain safety.
In a statement, Newark Public Safety Director Brian O’Hara said that on Thursday, June 17, police responded to a call of four “unknown persons entering a vacant residence and refusing to leave. The individuals left after police arrived, but one person, claiming to be a Sovereign Citizen, returned.”
That suspect was identified as 39-year-old Hubert John of Los Angeles, police said in a press release. Authorities said John faces charges of criminal mischief, burglary, criminal trespass and terroristic threats.
“The individual who had entered the home had the locks changed,” said O’Hara. “Once rightful ownership of the home was confirmed, the suspect was arrested. The Newark Police SWAT team was deployed because the suspect refused to leave and was claiming that he was rightfully in possession of the home. The suspect was essentially a squatter in a vacant home who had the locks changed. No weapons were used in this incident.”
In one TikTok video, she sums up the “cautionary tale” to warn others of the “bizarre” circumstance.
“I was randomly but not randomly targeted by a terrorist group that doesn’t follow any of our rules, and would be violent in efforts to steal my house. It’s not the sexy crime, Lifetime show that we’re used to seeing. … This was something for me to try to communicate a cautionary tale that is bizarre and crazy but it’s real life. It happened.”
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “sovereign citizens believe that they – not judges, juries, law enforcement or elected officials – get to decide which laws to obey and which to ignore, and they don’t think they should have to pay taxes.”