tear a place apart
1. To violently rip or pull someone or something into pieces. A noun or pronoun can be used between "tear" and "apart." He tore the contract apart when he realized how little he would be paid for his work. The pack of wolves tore apart their prey.
2. For a disagreement, problem, or outside factor to cause division in or force the dissolution of a relationship or group, such as of a romantic couple, family members, or organization. A noun or pronoun can be used between "tear" and "apart." The death of a child is the most calamitous thing anyone can experience, and it ends up tearing many couples apart. It's such a shame to see a family torn apart by squabbles over money. The issue has been tearing the community apart for months.
3. To criticize or reproach someone or something in a severe and merciless manner. A noun or pronoun can be used between "tear" and "apart." The reviews absolutely tore apart the sequel, but I don't think it was that bad. I heard the boss tearing Jack apart for his handling of the Jefferson account.
4. To cause someone to be extremely or inconsolably sad; to devastate someone. A noun or pronoun can be used between "tear" and "apart." Can't you see you're tearing Jane apart? Why do you have to treat her that way? That documentary really tore me apart. I still feel so hopeless after watching it.
5. To search through some place very thoroughly and aggressively, often leaving things in disarray as a result. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "tear" and "apart." I tore the house apart looking for my passport. FBI investigators have been tearing the office building apart in search of documents linking the corporation to criminal activity. Burglars tore the place apart looking for anything valuable.
tear a place apart
Fig. to search somewhere to the point of destruction. The cops came with a search warrant and tore your room apart. If you don't come up with the money you kept for us, we'll tear apart your house!