Neighbors claim a man’s death might not have happened last Tuesday if the city had listened to their cries for help with the rundown squatter home in the neighborhood. The house was an eyesore with an overgrown lawn and broken-in windows. Residents of the Northwood Hills Historic District say the house has been filled with squatters since the owner died a few months ago. Yet despite their many calls for help to police and city officials, the unwanted guests still frequented the home. Neighborhood blames ‘Squatters’ in fatal shooting.
Squatters take up residence in a home that’s been foreclosed upon or abandoned by its owners, and they’re not always easy to spot. Some go as far as to hang up their pictures, move their furniture in, and turn the power on. Real estate agents and neighbors are often the first to discover them. One of the signs to look for is a lot of foot traffic coming and going from the house. Often, police aren’t alerted until they’re called to the scene because of drug-dealing or selling of parts from stolen vehicles.
It can be hard to determine whether a new face is a renter or a squatter. They don’t like to draw attention to themselves, which is why many squatters begin moving in around 11 p.m. or 1 a.m., and continue throughout the night while it’s dark. Without keys, squatters often have to drill out a vacant home’s locks. Neighbors or homeowner association members may spot someone changing the locks early in the morning.
If you suspect squatters have moved into a home in your community, call your local police’s non-emergency line and ask to speak with someone in the community-oriented policing unit. And if you’d like to read a story about another Palm Beach murder, check out author, Denise Wallace, and her true crime book, Daddy’s Little Secret.