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Crime Stoppers Update

One case shows that copper theft is worse than just stolen metal

It was late at night, May 23, 2014.

Someone broke into a house on Durango, and began systematically destroying the vacant house being prepared for rental.

Kitchen cabinets and countertops were pulled from the wall. The sink itself with faucet and the faucets to a clothes washer and to a tub in a bathroom were stolen. Walls were torn apart in three rooms for copper pipes and wires, and they too were stolen.

Yanked from the furnace was an AC coil and the appliance’s AC copper line was ripped from the wall. Both were stolen.

In the master bathroom, the toilet and vanity were ripped out.

The total value of items taken: $2,658. The total value of damage done to the house: $10,459.

Unfortunately, the scene of destruction in the aftermath of this crime was all too typical. It’s why the program called Copperstoppers was established.

Fortunately, latent finger prints were found at the scene of this particular crime and the thief was identified. Anthony Bobo was arrested and admitted his guilt to investigators.

Fast-forward one year.

On May 19, 2015, Bobo pleaded guilty in Shelby County Criminal Court – Division 2 to one count of aggravated burglary, one count of vandalism and one count of theft of property between $1,000 and $10,000. All three are felonies.

Bobo received a suspended sentence of four years for each of the offenses and placed on probation. The sentences are concurrent and the terms of his probation are to maintain employment, pay $9,000 in restitution at a rate of $200 per month, submit to and pass random drug screens, and adhere to an 8 p.m. curfew until May, 2016.

 

Much is at stake 

     

     “Copper and other scrap metal theft from homes, churches and other buildings hurts the community in a lot of different ways” says Buddy Chapman, executive director of CrimeStoppers of Memphis and Shelby County.

     Damage to homes and apartments can be severe, he said, with new appliances rendered useless, neighborhood blight made worse, and the city’s tax base reduced by one more piece of property.

     Chapman urged that anyone with information about copper theft, or the illegal selling of stolen scrap metal, should call (or text or email from www.crimestopmem.org) a tip to CrimeStoppers, at 528-CASH (2274).

“It’s completely anonymous,” he reminded. “No one will ever know your name.”
Tips do make the difference

 

     In March of this year, not far from a grade school in north Memphis, thieves stole an air conditioning unit and copper set lines worth about $1,100 from a residence. 

     A few days later, a woman involved in the theft was identified upon selling the stolen items at a scrap yard. She gave police a “statement of admission.” When the time came for her to appear in court the following month, however, the woman didn’t show. 

     A warrant was issued for her arrest on April 29.

     On May 1 a CrimeStoppers tipster called to say that the woman fugitive was at another address in north Memphis, not far from the site of the theft. She was located by police, arrested and jailed. She faces charges of theft of property and vandalism.   

The tipster received a cash award.

 

 

Category : Blog &Latest News

Keep your HVAC in top shape

Category : Blog &Latest News

PET HEAT WARNING

PET HEAT WARNING: Our weather is really heating up– a hard fact to miss.

Highs are almost at 100 degrees while the heat index is well over reaching 109!

 

As the national weather service puts out heat advisories, we often think about our elderly family members and those less fortunate that may not have access to air conditioners, but please do not over look those four legged friends who rely on us to live.

 

Very much like us, they do not tolerate the extreme southern heat and we should take measures to protect them. We suggest they are not left outside without supervision when the heat index is above 100.

 

Excessive environmental heat can overwhelm their natural cooling process and quickly lead to trouble. If your pet seems to be acting strange after spending time outside, it is imperative that they are seen by a vet as soon as possible. Heat stroke/exhaustion and other heat related illnesses can be fatal if left untreated.

 

A Few Keep Cool Tips:

 

-Avoid intense activity between the hours of 10 AM and 8 PM.

-Darker-colored dogs have a tendency to get hotter quicker and take longer to cool down than light -color dogs.

-If the side walk or asphalt is to hot for you to walk on bare footed, you should not let your pet walk on it.

-Cool, fresh water should always be accessible to your dog. Baby pools for outside use are great as long as they stay in the shade as well.

-Make sure adequate ventilation is available. Never leave a dog in an enclosed vehicle. Box fans to move air on a shady porch are very helpful.

Category : Blog &Latest News

A letter to the Editor from Leco’s CEO Bert Less

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Hug An Invest- Bert Less, Memphis

David Waters’ June 2 column, “Seeking stability” omitted several important facts.

Lynda Whalen does her neighborhood a true service, but she makes several assumptions that are just not factual and perpetuate a mindset that all investors are uncaring “robber barons”. It’s so easy to blame faceless investors for all the ills in your area but there are many economic factors that cause the downfall of neighborhoods.

No one will sympathize with an investor, but I would suggest that real estate investors kept the Memphis market from complete depression especially immediately after the economic crash of 2008. A majority of the homes investors purchased needed painting, carpentry and roofing. The materials were purchased locally, and the renovations made to these properties created jobs and put vacant homes back on the tax rolls.

The main point we should take from Waters’ article is investors should inspect their purchases in person and should never try to manage the homes without local competent professional property management. With the advice of a management  company, no investor would have purchased the property in the article.

Bert Less.

 

To find the article that Mr.Less is responding to please follow the link below:

http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/columnists/david-waters/david-waters-neighborhood-leaders-battle-absentee-investors_64920581

Category : Blog &Latest News

MLGW’s Plus 1 Program

Any of us could face a financial crisis due to unforeseen events such as a death in the family or job loss, but thankfully, the Plus-1 program provides one-time utility assistance during such hardships. You hold the power to help those in need by giving to Plus-1 simply by adding a dollar or more to your utility bill each month.

What is Plus-1?
Plus-1 is a program administered by the Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association (MIFA) to pay utility services for people in need. Memphis Light, Gas and Water customers fund the program through one-time donations or by adding a dollar or more to their utility bill each month. Since its inception in 1982, Plus-1 has provided millions of dollars in assistance to families in crisis in Memphis and Shelby County.

Who is eligible for Plus-1?
Plus-1 recipients come from all walks of life, yet due to genuine hardships such as debilitating illness or recent unemployment, their financial resources are thoroughly exhausted. Each month, MIFA receives more than 800 requests for utility assistance, but because of the program’s limited funds, only about 140 of these families will receive Plus-1 assistance. However, to those who do receive aid, the Plus-1 gift makes the difference between being able to heat their home and cook their meals, and living in a cold, hungry world.

 

How does Plus-1 work?
MLGW acts as a collection agency for Plus-1, and forwards all money received directly to MIFA each month. In turn, MIFA administers the funds and cooperates with other agencies to see that assistance reaches those with the greatest need. The Plus-1 program offers one-time assistance. It serves as a “stop gap” measure to those in need, not an on-going source of assistance.

 

How can I help?
Giving to Plus-1 is one of the easiest things you’ll ever do. MLGW and MIFA provide several options to provide assistance to people in need. Simply use the secure Plus-1 online form or print, complete and send in the attached form below and indicate the amount of your monthly contribution. Your pledge will appear on your monthly MLGW bill under “Cost of Other Items” and will be included in the amount due.

 

To give to Plus-1, sign up online or simply download the Plus-1 application and fill it out. Please make your check or money order payable to Plus-1 and mail to:
Memphis Light, Gas and Water – Cashiers
P.O. Box 388
Memphis, TN 38145

Category : Blog &Latest News

United Way Kicks off Tax Season with Grand Opening

Trustee Highlights National EITC Awareness Day

National Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Awareness Day was January 30 and the community came out to support the United Way’s grand opening of one of its free tax prep centers at Raleigh Springs Mall. Trustee Lenoir joined United Way leaders, Shelby County Commissioner Willie Brooks and Memphis City Councilmen Edmund Ford and Myron Lowery to stress the importance of free tax preparation and the EITC.

 

In Memphis, $30 million to $70 million in Earned Income Tax Credits go unclaimed by low-income taxpayers every year because they don’t know they’re eligible or don’t file a claim.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help to people who generally make $53,000 or less, persons with disabilities, the elderly and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns.

https://files.ctctcdn.com/f6c68f9a401/326b4d0e-fd4b-421f-8f71-962793499ac2.pdf

Category : Blog &Latest News

6 energy-saving tips for renters

You may not own your apartment or home, but it’s easy to save energy and increase comfort. The following simple changes won’t cost you much, but they can make a big difference on your utility bills.

 

  1. Focus on lighting. Replace conventional incandescent bulbs with ENERGY STAR certified compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs). These bulbs use 75 percent less energy and last longer.
  2. Adjust the thermostat. Raise or lower temperatures (depending on the season) at night and when you’re away from home. If you have a programmable thermostat, set it to optimize savings while maintaining comfort.
  3. Go unplugged. Many electronic devices continue to use power when they’re turned off or not in use. Unplug battery chargers and any other devices when it’s convenient. Use a power strip as a central point to shut off power to clustered devices.
  4. Take shorter showers. The typical shower uses 30 to 50 gallons of hot water, costing you money. Limit your time in the shower to 10 minutes or less. Also, convince your landlord to install water-efficient showerheads; it’s a low-cost upgrade that can reduce energy and water use.
  5. Cook up energy savings. Cooking at home is a great way to make healthy meals; these tips will help you trim your energy costs:
    • Cover pots and pans to cook food more efficiently.
    • Match pots and pans to the size of the burner, and keep burners clean.
    • Use a microwave oven to heat food whenever possible.
    • Scrape dishes before loading them into the dishwasher, and only run it only when full.
  6. Use window treatments. In winter, open curtains or drapes during the day to let in the warmth of the sun; close them at night to retain heat. In warm weather, close treatments on south-facing windows to keep out solar heat during the day.

Talk to your landlord or property manager about additional energy-efficiency improvements. High-performance windows, ENERGY STAR appliances and other upgrades will not only help reduce your energy bills, they’re also a great investment. Studies have shown that such upgrades can improve property value and increase occupancy rates.

Category : Blog &Latest News

Leco Realty now accepts rental payments online!

WANT  TO  MAKE  YOUR  RENT  PAYMENT  ONLINE?

  WE NEED YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO GET STARTED

 

Exciting News! You can now pay your rent online! Choose to pay by Credit Card or E-Check anytime, anywhere.  Additionally, Electronic Cash Payment option were you can pay cash at Ace Cash Express *must have PaySlip provided by Leco Realty in order to pay at Ace Cash Express* – Ask for yours today!

How To Get Started?

Provide Leco with your email address, shortly you will receive an email invitation to setup and access your unique tenant portal.

If we already have your email address, please look for the separate email invitation.

(note: the email may be in your spam folder)
For the best experience, Firefox or Chrome are the suggested browsers.

Why Pay Online?

  • It’s Secure – Online payments are more secure than mailing a check!
  • It’s Fast – Online payments post to your rent account immediately!
  • It’s Convenient – View your charges and make payments online anytime, from anywhere!
  • It’s Flexible – You can pay with whatever method best fits your needs!

What Are Your Payment Options?

E-Check – Enter your routing and account number to pull your rent directly from your checking or savings account.

Credit Card– Charge your rent to your credit or debit card; earn points or pay over time. There is an online payment fee affiliated with any Credit Card payments:

  • $17 for rent up to $900
  • $27 for rent between $900.01 and $1250
  • $37 for rent between $1250.01 and $3000 (max $3000 per transaction)

Electronic Cash Payments – Take your cash and personalized PaySlip into *ACE Cash Express to pay your rent.

  • Contact us for your personalized PaySlip and to find the most convenient payment locations
  • A transaction fee of $3.99 will be applied for transactions up to $1500

*You do not need an email address for this option but you must have the PaySlip provided to you by Leco in order to pay at Ace Cash Express – Ask for yours today!

 

 

Let us know if you have any questions and thank you for being a valued tenant!

Sincerely,

Leco Realty, Inc

3707 Macon Road

Memphis, TN.  38122

P. 901-272-9028

F. 901-272-7316

www.lecorealty.com

Category : Blog &Latest News

Reminders & helpful Information for our tenants

Helpful reminder: You must call MLGW @ 901-820-7878 to schedule a date & time to have them light your pilot light on your heat. It can take several days or even weeks for them to get to you so please call them as soon as possible. Leco can not fix any potentional problems until mlgw has inspected your heating unit.

 

Things to check for if you feel your heat isn’t working as it should:

1.)    check your air filter to make sure it is clean. C h/a filters should be changed every 30 to 60 days.

2.)   Make sure your pilot light is still lit and if  it’s not call mlgw to have it relit

3.)   Make sure the furnace is getting power by checking your fuse and/ or breaker box

 

Safety hazard warning: Space heaters can be a safety hazard if you are not careful using them. They  also pull a lot of electricity and can cause breakers to flip or burn up outlets. If you are using a space heater in your home please use it cautiously & be aware of the hazards. Running several electrical items at once will cause breakers to flip or fuses to blow.

 

Frozen Pipes can be avoided. Leco Realty requires our tenants to help prevent pipes from freezing. Please make sure you leave your water facets dripping slightly and wrap outside facets with insulation to help prevent freezing. You may also want to leave cabinet doors open at night to help keep pipes warm enough to prevent freezing. Be sure to close up any open crawl spaces and foundation vents. Please do not put plastic on the inside of your house. This traps moisture  and will cause mildew.

 

Category : Blog &Latest News

Copper Stoppers Pays Off!

The new Copper Stopper program will pay a tipster about $500 for helping Memphis Police. On Friday it help MPD catch some thieves in the act of cutting up $18,700 worth of copper that had been stolen from Memphis Light, Gas & Water Division.  When police arrived at the backyard of 2240 Griggs in North Memphis, they found several men and insulated copper wire that had been cut into 14 sections of 4 to 6 feet each, according to the incident report.

“MLGW officer advised this property is not sold to the general public and the only way to obtain this property is from an MLGW facility,” the report states.  Charged with theft of property are Bruce Carter, Sean Lambert and Dwight Nelson. 

Mayor AC Wharton teamed with Crime Stoppers, Memphis Police and the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office in late June to announce the creation of Copper Stoppers.  Representatives from the industries most affected by copper thefts – property management firms, homebuilders, rental agents and others in real estate – raised $15,000 to fund Copper Stoppers.  The program awards up to $250 if a tip leads to an arrest of someone stealing metal,$250 to $750 if a thief is caught in the act, and $750 to $1,000 for tips that lead to the arrest of those who buy or transport stolen metal.  Often the theft of just a few hundred dollars of copper results in tens of thousands of dollars in damage to a building or home. 

Copper Stoppers has had an impact so far, E. Winslow “Buddy” Chapman, Crime Stoppers executive director, said Saturday night.  “We had made one arrest on Copper Stoppers previously, but not as a result of a tip,” Chapman said.

“It was a result of emphasis being put on the issue and it did result in a partial Copper Stopper application.”  Copper theft in Memphis has not stopped completely since the new program, “but it sure slacked off,” Chapman said. 

 

Copyright 2014 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved.

 

 

Category : Blog &Latest News

Flood of investor money raises fears of new housing bubble

Wall Street’s role as landlord has raised concerns about the impact on Memphis-area neighborhoods.

While the large numbers of investors increased the value of homes throughout Memphis, the rise in rental prices can put pressure on lower and middle-income families with stagnant incomes, said Tom Lawler, a former Fannie Mae economist.

What’s more, property managers are concerned the outside investors could fuel a new type of housing bubble.

Soft wage gains in Memphis along with investors who overpaid for property in less desirable areas make it unlikely the region can support the growing number of single-family rental units, said Bert Less, head of Leco Realty in Memphis.

The rental economy, like the home buying market, tends to thrive for investors when the economy is strong, he said. When it slows, investors are unlikely to get the kind of returns they are seeking.

That could drive many investors out of the local market. If they sell off quickly, house values could slip throughout the Memphis area.

Less said he sees signs that some investors are starting to consider selling.

“I don’t know for sure, but I suspect some of the big buyers may regret these purchases to a certain degree,” Less said. “They don’t know Memphis and the demographics in terms of income compared to other regions. They got cheap property, but there’s a reason it’s cheap — it’s a poor town.”

Home prices have risen in part due to the flood of investors rather than a strong jobs recovery. Only about 550,000 metro-area residents worked full- or part-time jobs in June — 10,000 fewer than two years ago. For those who worked, wages and salaries for all occupations averaged $41,120, a gain of 1.1 percent in two years, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports show.

Despite the sluggish economy, home prices climbed. Sale prices in the metro area’s Tennessee counties averaged $145,991 in July, up 7 percent in a year, and up 20 percent since 2012, Memphis Area Association of Realtors data shows.

Some investors are growing wary. Jim Reedy, president of Memphis rental management company Reedy & Co., said some of the firm’s investment clients now regret their Memphis purchases and want out of the local market. Copper theft and vandalism have raised his client’s costs, and they can’t get a return on their Memphis investments, he said.

Less isn’t surprised. “These guys are national investors looking at money on a spreadsheet, but the real war is won on the ground,” Less said. “You have to know the local market.”

Investors saved the real estate market in the early days of the housing recovery by preventing even greater numbers of vacant homes and bolstering home prices.

But they no longer provide the same public service, said Lawler, who warned of a U.S. housing bubble in 2005, before the 2008 market crash.

“I can certainly no longer say, ‘Thank God, they are here,’ ” Lawler said. “From the standpoint of a local area, maybe you’d wish these guys wouldn’t be so aggressive anymore.”

Lawler said vacant homes are the “absolutely the worst” for communities because they open the door for everything from crime and vandalism to plumbing and sewage problems.

But investors are now often competing with traditional homebuyers, he said. Local buyers in turn are paying more as the outside tide of money bids up home prices. And in some cases, sellers prefer the investor’s cash to the traditional family mortgage, so local buyers are being edged out.

The tide of outside investment may recede. The national outlook for high returns on rental properties is no longer as compelling as the inventory of bank-owned properties dwindles, Lawler said.

The diminished upside in the face of risks like tenants missing payments, taxes, vandalism, and the challenges associated with managing thousands of properties from afar, make it surprising that many of the Wall Street-backed players have continued to buy, Lawler said.

By: Jennifer Backer- 2014 Commercial Appeal

Category : Blog &Latest News

Wall Street-backed firms betting on rising Memphis rental demand

(Editor’s note: A  story about the Memphis housing market that was published online this weekend vastly overstated the growth of households renting in Memphis and Shelby County.

 

Investors from New York to San Diego have bought more than $1 billion worth of houses in Memphis and the suburbs, a flood of out-of-town landlords that soaked up thousands of distressed homes and turned them into rentals.

Buying homes throughout the metropolitan area, the tide of outside investors has shored up housing prices, but also raised concerns about another housing bubble or ruined neighborhoods if the owners prove to be bad landlords.

Fueled by historically low interest rates, entities such as private-equity firms, hedge funds and big investors, along with thousands of smaller individual buyers, have poured at least $1.17 billion into the Memphis region’s housing market through all-cash sales over the last four years, data from market researcher RealtyTrac shows.  (See map of top buyers and where they spent the most money.)

While the inflow of out-of-town cash has helped prop up a housing market wracked by foreclosure and job losses, it also has spurred Memphis’ shift. It is more of a landlord’s city.

“When I moved in it was mostly homeowners, and I would say now about half of the houses are renters — or a little more than half,” said Lawshé Gray of Cordova.

Seven years ago, Lawshé and Cornell Gray purchased their three-bedroom brick home in the leafy River Ridge neighborhood in the Memphis suburb.

Back then, most homes in the subdivision were lived in by owners. But many of Gray’s neighbors were hard hit when the housing bubble burst, and many have since moved.

Next door, the home was recently rented by a military couple. Another a few doors downalso has new renters. Her neighbor, Angela Butler, sees the same trend. Rentals now fill River Ridge, she said.

Wall Street comes home

Wall Street-backed firms are betting on the ranks of Memphians who lost their homes in the housing crash and those who don’t qualify for a mortgage under today’s tougher bank lending standards.

The U.S. homeownership rate fell to 64.7 percent in the second quarter, the U.S. Census Bureau said on July 29. That’s the lowest level in nearly two decades.

Big investors have purchased swaths of homes across the area — mostly at deep discounts out of foreclosure, transforming the housing market. Of the largest 25 residential property sellers in 2013, half were investment firms, according to Chandler Reports, a market researcher.

The influx of Wall Street-backed buyers has the potential to keep driving up property prices, setting the stage for another housing bust, said Bert Less, owner of Leco Realty in Memphis.

“At some point, it’s going to reach a tipping point, and bam. We will have another crash,” said Less, who manages more than 1,200 rental homes. Less said he “shudders” to think about what will happen when the larger investors decide to sell their Memphis holdings.

If they bail out quickly, home values could fall.

Cash sales

What some regular home buyers have encountered is a new experience in Memphis — getting pushed aside by cash buyers.

Memphis placed No. 7 out of the top 30 metro areas for cash sales in this year’s first quarter, reported real estate researcher Zillow Inc. Zillow rival RealtyTrac pegged the percentage of Memphis first quarter all-cash sales at about 55 percent, compared with 43 percent nationally.

Of the Memphis area’s first-quarter cash sales, about 70 percent involved the lower tier of home prices, making it harder for first-time homebuyers and lower income buyers to compete, said Svenja Gudell, Zillow’s director of economic research. The Seattle-based company’s research shows cash sales in the Memphis metro area peaked in the fourth quarter of 2012.

All-cash deals often make conditions harder for buyers who need a mortgage, because the sellers prefer the speed and certainty of cash, Gudell said.

They also reveal the true softness and unevenness of the housing recovery, she added.

Boon to local firms

The all-cash investors have been a boon to local firms like Memphis Invest GP, which buys, renovates and manages single-family homes for individual investors.

Chris Clothier, a Memphis Invest partner and director of sales and marketing, said the company has purchased more than 1,200 homes on behalf of about 900 smaller clients across the country, and also manages more than 2,500 single-family home rental properties locally, and an additional 400 in Texas.

The firm steers clear of institutional clients, preferring to work with individual buyers, Clothier said. Memphis Invest’s average client owns about three homes, compared to thousands acquired by institutional buyers.

Memphis Invest clients earn 7.5 percent to 9.5 percent annually on their Memphis properties, he said. Clothier described the company’s buying patterns as a “sideways horseshoe” beginning in Frayser, Raleigh, and Bartlett stretching out to Cordova, into Southeast Memphis and across southern Memphis to Whitehaven.

The firm avoids Downtown, Midtown, and the city’s central corridor because there isn’t as much affordable property available and the returns aren’t as high, Clothier said.

Quality of life

Just what heavy ownership by out-of-town landlords means for Memphis neighborhoods isn’t certain.

Cassandra Bell-Warren, owner of 4 Success Realty and Property Management of Memphis, said investors prevent vacant homes and blight.

“It’s a win-win for everyone,” said Bell-Warren, property manager for 260 Memphis-area houses. “If you look at the number of homes that sit vacant, the investors help keep the neighborhoods up.”

Phyllis Betts, founder of the Center for Community Building and Neighborhood Action at the University of Memphis, said converting vacant properties to rentals can sustain neighborhoods if the landlords maintain the neighborhood quality of life, take care of the rentals and find good tenants.

But problems could emerge when landlords fall short and let houses deteriorate, she said.

Gray on Wind River Circle says she hasn’t noticed any disarray as the street has shifted from mostly owners to renters. “We don’t have any problems — this is a good neighborhood,” she said.

For many in the city, though, renting is their only option. In January, recently divorced Leigh Musgrave searched northern Cordova for a rental home within the ZIP code of her 10-year-old son’s school, Macon-Hall Elementary. In many subdivisions, almost all the homes had rental signs in the front yards.

Musgrave turned to the real estate firm Crye-Leike, whose home rental arm manages property for New York investor Progress Residential. She found a three-bedroom home built in 2007 in the Carlyle Place subdivision.

Shelby County property records show the home first sold in 2007 for $170,900. Progress Residential bought it last year for $136,000. Musgrave pays $1,325 in rent per month.

“There are a few vacant homes, and I don’t think anyone on this street owns these homes anymore,” Musgrave said.

Because of that, she said, it’s been harder to get to know her neighbors.

 

By: Jennifer Backer- 2014 Commercial Appeal

Category : Blog &Latest News

About Us

Founded in 1988 by Bert A. less, Leco Realty has a staff of seven full time employees and a full complement of crafts and maintenance vendors. Still a family owned operation, the company manages over 1,500 units in the Memphis metropolitan area. Read More

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