Concerns growing over homeless camps in Port Charlotte

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PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla.- Pitched tents, campfires and makeshift showers and kitchens. Homeless camps are popping up in Charlotte County. Some are concerned about the camps in Port Charlotte after multiple fires have started and even a horrific sex crime.

“Beer cans, piles of trash, fecal matter, I mean everything that you can imagine is at these camps,” said Lt. Darrell Caparo of the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office.

Caparo says they’ve gotten a lot of complaint calls. But the sheriff’s office isn’t ready to take drastic action.

“We’re not going in and destroying homeless camps, ripping down tents, burning tents or anything like that. We do go in and talk with them. We encourage them to seek services,” said Caparo.

He says there have been three fires in the last few weeks, all started by campfires. Tuesday a homeless man who lives in one of the camps was arrested for stealing a bike. The sheriff’s office tells WINK News that same man was charged with having sex with a dog last month.

WINK News went out to a camp off of Sinatra and Shoreland Street.

“I know this is someone’s property. I respect that. I’m not causing no trouble,” said Patrick Finley, who lives in the camp.

He says he’s not responsible for any fires or other crimes.

“Us homeless over here didn’t have anything to do with that,” said Nicole Voght who also lives in the camp.

Voght says she’s worried that because of others’ mistakes they’ll be told to leave the home they’ve created in the woods.

The sheriff’s office says they will continue to remind the homeless that they are trespassing. In the meantime the county is notifying land owners that there are people living on their property. It will then be in the property owners’ hands.

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