RIVERVIEW, Fla. - The three-bedroom, two-bath home in the Lake St. Charles deed-restricted development of Riverview is supposed to be empty. The house, at 6720 Waterton Dr., was foreclosed in January, with the owner moving to Maine.
Hillsborough County deputies discovered 31-year old Evelyn Buchanan living there Monday. Neighbors tipped them off, and are afraid to give their names, fearful of retribution.
"Moving trucks sitting in a driveway for three days with no movement was the first indication. Usually if you're moving you're going to be in and out of the truck, and we really didn't see that," said woman who lives nearby.
Deputies say Buchanan admitted paying a locksmith to change the locks and gain access to the home. She also presented documentation she claimed made her the owner.
"She had this paper work that she got from a bank, unable to provide us the bank name. Unable to really support any of her claims," recalled Cpl. Bruce Crumpler of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
Despite all that, and the homeowner who lives in Maine, the woman still has until Friday to vacate the house.
"We allowed the victim to give us his opinion, or what he would like done. He agreed to give this specific individual until this coming Friday to get out of the house," said Crumpler.
That doesn't sit well with the people who live nearby.
"Unknown and the safety, 'cause I know there's kids in the neighborhood, and you don't know where these people are from," said a man who lives in the neighborhood."
The Sheriff's Office says they uncovered more than thirty cases of squatting in the last six months; and other than issuing trespass charges, there's little they can do but deal with each case and its own set of circumstances.
"Before we can actually put charges on someone or go forward, we need to determine who's going to walk in court and say, 'That property's mine, and I didn't want those people there.' It may sound simple, but it reality, in this case, it isn't very simple," explained Crumpler.
"If it can happen here, it can happen anywhere," said another woman from the neighborhood.