NORTHVILLE (WWJ) – Police are cracking down on a popular spot for urban explorers and they have a simple warning for trespassers: Keep out.
More than 300 people have been arrested so far this year for trespassing at the old Northville Psychiatric Hospital on 7 Mile Road, Hometown Life reported. That’s more than the arrest total for all of 2016, which was just under 300.
“It’s almost on a daily basis where people continue to migrate to this area and despite the efforts that have been made to dissuade people and educate people otherwise,” Northville Township Director of Public Safety Todd Mutchler told WWJ’s Zahra Huber. “We have signs posted in the area and there’s a fence up around the area.”
Anyone caught at the property faces arrest and a misdemeanor charge of trespassing, which carries a penalty of up to 90 days in jail plus a fine of $500, in addition to court costs and administration fees. Mutchler said most first-time violators will be issued a citation and released.
“Unless the individual has any other requests from neighboring communities with criminal charges pending where they need to be arrested, or if there are multiple times being cited, most first time visitors receive a citation and then they have to take a day out of their life and go to court,” he said.
Not all citations happen on site, either. Mutchler said bragging on social media about eluding police and gaining access to the hospital can land you in trouble, too.
“We monitor social media quite closely for individuals who are talking about going on the property. In fact, we have caught individuals and cited them with their posts showing them on site,” he said. “We use all the tools available to us.”
Police say the increase in arrests is directly related to an increased zero-tolerance enforcement at the property, which began earlier this year.
“There seems to be quite a following of people that like to tour these type of sites,” said Mutchler. “Just drive by and look from your vehicle. Don’t get out and walk around the property.”
Officials say the building isn’t safe; floors and walls are crumbling apart and exposing asbestos, among other dangers.
“Even though it may seem very attractive, there is uncontrolled or uncontained asbestos on the property, which science tells us is very unsafe to be exposed to,” said Mutchler. “There are numerous, numerous holes in the floors, and glass — it’s just an incredibly unsafe place to be.”
Northville Psychiatric Hospital opened in the 1950s and closed in 2003. Although the state sold the land years ago, the former hospital’s remaining roughly 15 structures, as well as 2 miles of underground tunnels, still remain on a 350-acre parcel. Northville Township purchased the site in part in 2009 and plans call for it to become a recreational park, but progress is stalled.