Medford officials decided today to clamp down on blight by giving police the clout to go after vacant houses that have been neglected because of the large number of foreclosures.

Medford officials decided today to clamp down on blight by giving police the clout to go after vacant houses that have been neglected because of the large number of foreclosures.

"We're concerned about these homes becoming blighted homes," said Medford police chief Randy Schoen.

Police have identified 385 houses in Medford that have gone into foreclosure since October.

Schoen asked City Council members to consider an ordinance that would require all vacant homes be put on a registry so law enforcement and code officers could keep an eye on the properties.

There would be no fees to be placed on the registry, but if the property owner failed to heed warnings to repair the run-down property, the proposed ordinance could lead to a $250-a-day fine.

In other parts of the country, these vacant homes have attracted vagrants and others who illegally move in, pay the utilities and sometimes set up drug operations, said Schoen. So far, these activities haven't been detected in Medford, he said.

— Damian Mann