When it comes to tackling outstanding debts, you might sometimes wish you had a personal army on your side – but if you were, for example, Marathon County sheriff’s department in Wisconsin, USA, you wouldn’t be far off.
The rural community of around 135,000 residents hit the headlines recently after sending in a 24-strong SWAT team and an armoured vehicle called MARV to collect on a debt from a 75-year-old man.
Roger Hoeppner, a local landowner, has been locked in a battle with the city for several years over his real estate, and now owes roughly $80,000 in unpaid costs.
According to reports, Mr Hoeppner failed to answer the door when two police officers knocked, but they could tell that the house was occupied, so called in extra support.
Due to the relative scale of the debt, and the quantity of goods that would need to be seized in order to reach the $86,000 total, a large police presence was needed – accounting for the 24 officers who subsequently arrived.
Marathon County sheriff’s captain Greg Bean told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that MARV – the Marathon County Response Vehicle – typically helps to speed things up too.
“I’ve been involved in about five standoff situations where, as soon as the MARV showed up, the person gives up,” he explained.
The dispute arose in 2008 due to the condition of Mr Hoeppner’s land, which contains a large quantity of equipment and wooden pallets, and he was ordered to clean up but failed to do so.
A further complaint was made in 2010, and by 2011 city officials had been given approval to remove some of the items from his land.
As of April 2013, a final judgment was made which included a daily fine of $500 if Mr Hoeppner did not comply – and by the time he lost his appeal in March, this had taken his outstanding total to around $80,000.
Mr Hoeppner has reportedly paid the sum using his retirement funds, but the dispute continues, with claims that his wife was hospitalised due to the stress of the situation.