LAKELAND, Fla. - A Polk County school teacher and her husband face charges of grand theft after changing locks, purchasing electricity, and moving into a home they didn't own.
It's the second adverse possession case, or "squatters", busted by the Polk County Sheriff's Office in less than a month.
"They just move in, turn the electricity on, and take over," said Sheriff Grady Judd. "That's like suggesting that, after Walmart closes tonight, if you stay there, it's your store."
Cherie Fields, 25, and her husband, Owen Fields, 27, filed for adverse possession on the $160,000 residence located at 6861 Echo Lane near Lakeland on March 27, 2013.
The home is in foreclosure, but still owned by a woman in California. PCSO contacted her, and she confirmed that no one had legal access to it.
According to neighbors, the couple claimed to have bought the house from the bak.
Darin Pratt assumed he had new neighbors, legal ones, especially after seeing moving trucks outside.
"Besides having the cable guy come out, and the meter guy come out, and the water guy come out to turn everything on, it looked like normal people moving in," Pratt said.
Cherie teaches at Fort Meade Middle – Senior High School. Owen is a night auditor at a local motel.
The couple only lived in the home for a month, but because their crime is considered grand theft over $10,000, they may call jail their new home for several years.
"Come on, girl! You've got a college education. You should know better than that," Sheriff Judd said. "Some people aren't learning very quickly, even when they are school teachers. In fact, some of your best lessons in life, are learned outside of the classroom. We gave this teacher a field trip to the county jail."
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