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SQUATTER SPOTTERS: Sneaking inside a gated community

Posted at 6:00 PM, Jul 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-14 21:00:42-04
You think the gates at your gated community will keep the criminal element out, but one gated community has had four different squatter houses in the last year
Robin Reddle noticed some things amiss with a house near hers, and red flags went off right away.
"There was a lot of car activity, which is the first thing that drew a lot of attention," said Reddle. "So with the car activity, then followed a lot of foot traffic in and out, and it was very early morning, two, three, four o'clock in the morning."
Reddle, a neighborhood watch block captain, realized she was dealing with squatters and took action.
"We started making the 911 phone calls, which alerted police, they started coming out, and then come to find out it was a very large auto theft ring that was being run out of this very small quiet community," said Reddle.
That home was not the only house in Stallion Mountain with squatters. 
Homeowner's Association President David Conrad said someone bought a home in there at a foreclosure sale, but when he turned the key, there were already people inside. 
The squatters in those two houses are gone, but now Conrad says there are two bank-owned homes full of squatters.
"A lot of these squatters have a criminal element behind them," said Michael Maksymiw, community coordinator for the neighborhood watch. "They're used to playing the system, they'll bring drugs, stolen merchandise; they bring in other friends of theirs with stolen merchandise and drugs."
Conrad recently sent a letter out to houses in their association with things to look for: old newspapers, burned out lights, a messy yard, and no tire marks in the driveway. 
Conrad and Maksymiw said it is all about being aware of what is going on and knowing your neighbors. In recent cases where they've gotten rid of squatters, everyone is quick to credit their teamwork.
"It was absolutely a neighborhood watch team, along with our wonderful HOA board, our property management. It was a community effort that got them out," said Reddle.
Conrad also offered these tips:
If you have an empty house next door, put one of your trash cans outside it on trash day.
If you keep your garage door opener in your car, make sure to park in the garage. If you can't take the garage door opener out.