Neighborhood overrun by squatters

The homeowners say squatters refuse to leave
Posted at 10:40 PM, Jun 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-22 22:41:58-04

Two homeowners in a Punta Gorda neighborhood say squatters have destroyed three homes on their street. 

Random knick-knacks and bicycles litter the lawn of a Punta Gorda home in the 2000 block of Lee Street. The utilities have been turned off, but homeless people have been squatting in the home for months.  

Squatters have also seized control of the home next door. The homeowner Lucila Gale says they refuse to leave. 

She told Four in Your Corner she has spent close to $3,000 trying to evict them. She confronted two squatters in the home while our cameras were rolling. 

"You think you can live here free? said Lucila Gale. 
"Well" said male squatter.
"Because she's here free. she just took over here," said Gale.
"I didn't know that," said the male squatter.
"We didn't know any of the situation," said the female squatter.

Gale's home is just one of three on Lee Street where homeowners say they've been forced out by squatters.

"After the water got turned off from there they decided to break into my old house," said one homeowner. 

He asked Four In Your Corner to conceal his identity. He says squatters took control of the home he used to own. 

"They pretty much trashed the whole place. The police wouldn't help; wouldn't do anything, they said we had to evict them. Long story short we went over there, got them all out and boarded the house up."

He chose to move because the squatters in the neighborhood were getting out of control. At Gale's home, the squatters rigged the water system to get water flowing back into the house. 

"But yet they're out there and they turn the main on. If my wife or I did something like that, we'd be in jail right now. I think they call it theft of services. 

He claims he brought this up to code enforcement, but not much has been done to clean up the homes in the neighborhood. 

"Garbage everywhere, no electric, no water, people having fights using drugs and they don't do anything and it comes down to money. I can pay my fine if they don't like something in my yard. That house, there's no point in fining," he said.