Squatters have been using Georgia's adverse possession law, which is meant to resolve property disputes, to live in empty houses that are in a state of limbo. The process takes advantage of the high number of foreclosures and abandoned houses in recent years.
"We want people to feel more comfortable and want them to know what to look for," said Det. Mac Abercrombie of the Douglasville Police Department. "We see a problem and want to help address a need.
"We've been taking a pro-active approach to this problem," said Det. Mac Abercrombie of the Douglasville Police Department. "We've been planning this since October. This is not a reaction to recent stories in the news."
The meeting will be held at the community meeting center at 2083 Fairburn Rd., at 7 p.m.
Abercombie stressed that the most important thing is that homeowners should not directly contact a person suspected of squatting. He said that homeowners should not act in any maner that would place themselves or anyone else in danger of any kind.
If homeowners already have a suspected squatter that they would like to report, they should come armed with specfic information about the squatter before the police can begin an investigation.
This is part of the information that the police will be handing out to residents at the meeting:
In your normal daily activities you may have noticed activity in your neighborhood that should be noted in relation to the squatters. Here are some things to note:
- Address of residence in question with description and previous/current owners name if known. This is best if you have personal knowledge of the previous or current occupants.
- Specific suspicious activity and dates that it occurred. Did you call the police for a report or to check the activity?
- Has there been signs at the resident that have recently been moved? (for sale, Bank foreclosure, or other paperwork on the front door). When squatters move in they will remove all signs on the residence.
- Has there been recent moving activity at the residence? May be a smaller amount of furniture than normal and may move in faster than a typical resident would.
- Have you seen the resident changing door locks? Banks secure the residences and squatters will often break in and replace the door locks so the bank, and police can’t get into the residence to check on it.
- Does the house have a recent alarm monitoring service sign? Squatters will often have an alarm installed to keep police and other squatters from entering the residence.
- Is there electricity or water at the residence? Squatters will live in the house without utilities for some period of time before they are able to get service. The utilities like WSA and Georgia Power will require a lease or other documentation to activate service (which will be fraudulent). However the utilities are charging large deposits and are not retaining any of the forged documents, therefore we are unable to prosecute or stop them initially from getting service. This is not the case for Greystone Power which has been cooperative.
- Have you noticed mail missing, or items from around the house missing? Squatters are often involved in fraud/theft and will watch the activities in your area and use the information to commit other burglaries, move other squatters into vacant homes, take you mail/bills to commit fraud, and theft.
For more information or to attend the meeting, residents may contact Abercrombie at 678-293-1707.
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