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Vandalism and safety concerns at vacant Sanibel Outlets

Posted at 9:58 PM, Jan 19, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-19 21:58:24-05

IONA, Fla. — The Sanibel Outlets, located between McGregor Blvd and Summerlin Road in Iona, have become a point of local concerns due to recent vandalism. An aerial view of the site reveals a striking image: 43 air conditioning units on the building's roof have been systematically dismantled.

Row of dismantled AC units atop the Sanibel Outlets

The rusty and broken locks suggest a lack of security may have facilitated the break-in. This incident has raised alarms among nearby residents, with many reporting regular sightings of individuals occupying the abandoned shops.

Joe Prigun, a neighbor just on the other side of the outlets, expressed his worries, "You can see them going in and out, so there's people living over there. Is there a safety concern? Of course there is."

Another neighbor, Bob Richmond, added, "I lock everything up at night, and make sure that everything's safe."

The Sanibel Outlets have been a subject of concern for the community, not just for the recent vandalism but also for their overall state. "It's a big eyesore right now," said Richmond. "It's been about a year and a half since Hurricane Ian, and nothing's happening."

"I'd like to see something go there, it needs to be torn down and start all over again," added Prigun.

County officials confirmed that a demolition permit had been obtained by a contractor. However, the property owners' decision to change contractors led to the withdrawal of this permit, leaving the future of the site uncertain.

As the investigation into the vandalism continues, the Lee County Sheriff's Office urges anyone with information to contact Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers.