Bay Area landlord staged home invasion in effort to evict family, police say

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. -- Mountain View police say a landlord staged a home invasion in an effort to evict a family over a late rent payment.

The incident happened around 8:15 p.m. Monday night, on Rock Street near Rengstorff Avenue.

Signs of Monday night's mayhem were still visible Tuesday. There was damage to the front door.

Police says the landlord, 50-year-old Reenu Saini, was frustrated over late rent payment and wanted the family gone.

"That landlord, plus four individuals, showed up to the home with the intention of forcibly removing the family from the home," said MVPD Public Information Officer Katie Nelson.

In a release, the department detailed that the family refused to leave and the group then took their efforts to an unlawful level.

"Someone in the group shut the power off to the residence. Then one of the people involved in the scheme, 53-year-old San Jose resident Steven Carling, tried to use a knife to break open the door," the release read.

Police said Carling's knife nearly injured a family member inside who was trying to hold the door closed.

"Using these methods to try and have somebody leave a home, unfortunately this was not the route to take," Nelson added. "Somebody could've gotten seriously injured."

The husband, wife and two kids escaped through a back door to Rengstorff Avenue, unharmed.

When police arrived, they found the five suspects on the front lawn.

Steve Chandler with the Mountain View Tenants Coalition said the incident is surprising for a number of reasons. In his experience, he said rental disputes usually involve "corporate landlords."

"I get the impression that the smaller 'mom-and-pop' landlords, they care about their tenants," Chandler said. "Now, obviously this is an exception."

"Apparently, the greed of some landlords can cause somebody to lose control," he added.

The landlord and her crew are facing the following charges:

Reenu Saini was arrested for attempted robbery, burglary of an inhabited dwelling, conspiracy to commit a crime, and unlawfully shutting off power to a home.

Steven Carling was arrested for attempted robbery, burglary of an inhabited dwelling, assault with a deadly weapon and conspiracy to commit a crime.

Three other people, who were also a part of the scheme, 49-year-old San Jose resident Lori Walston, 49-year-old San Jose resident Brian Ross and 52-year-old San Jose resident Debra McNeil, were arrested for attempted robbery, burglary of an inhabited dwelling and conspiracy to commit a crime.

"All five individuals are facing serious charges if it comes to that," Nelson said.

The family was back inside the home on Tuesday, but declined to speak on-camera.

Emily Schooley lives nearby. She came across Monday's police activity while walking her dog, Bruno. She told ABC7 News, "I hope that they can find another safe place that's apparently safer than this one."
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