Two women in Philadelphia are accused of “stealing homes” — breaking into other’s homes by drilling out the locks, and squatting. They’ve been doing it all over town, apparently.
Their strategy is that they break in, squat, and then demand a payment from the homeowner in exchange for leaving.
The news team which covered this story, Action News Troubleshooters, tracked down a squatter who fesses up to her illegal involvement and explains just how easy it is for squatters to take over your home.
“If y’all want us to leave now, you have to give us something,” says a masked woman in their undercover video. The woman behind this mask is Taniesha Diaz, hiding her face after Action News busted her and others living illegally in a Northwood home.
And they can get away with this brazen criminal behavior, because the laws are so idiotic, and so very stacked against property owners. Instead of receiving a firm kick to their heinies, the malicious squatters can depend on bad laws to protect them. Police, when they arrive, if they come at all, will slouch away saying that it’s a civil matter and they can’t do anything about it.
Regarding the most recently “stolen” home:
The four bedroom, two bath property has been owned by Matthew Waychoff for 10 years.
“The house was move-in ready,” said Waychoff.
That makes it the perfect place for squatters to move in. Waychoff says neighbors frantically called on him in the middle of the night saying burglars had broken in.
He says the squatters showed police a fake lease and officers refused to throw them out.
As is far too common with abuses and crimes perpetrated against property owners, the victimized homeowners have felt treated as if they are the ones who are the criminals.
Waychoff, and other homeowners like the McGees, said they’ve been victimized by squatters.
“We feel like we are the criminals,” said Don McGee.
But both said they’d been told there was little police could do. That was until law enforcement saw our report.
“That opened our eyes and gave us the probable cause with the DA’s office to go after her for the extortion and the other related offenses,” said Philadelphia Police Lt. Dennis Rosenbaum.
Police said after seeing our interview with Diaz, and the Facebook video we showed of her taking an expensive vacation to Miami, they had enough evidence to put Diaz behind bars.
“She just flat out didn’t care, and was bold, just bold,” said Rosenbaum. “I immediately contacted the District Attorney’s office, and was able to work with them and Detective Sullivan to get the arrest warrant together.”
Diaz and Catley are now to be charged with extortion, burglary and criminal trespass.
See more in the articles:
Police say that they are seeking to change laws
Lt. Rosenbaum said police are now working on changing their policies so they can remove anyone illegally occupying a home.
They said they hope this case will serve as a warning to other would-be squatters.