Man arrested for breaking into a house, makes himself at home

Author: CAMILA PEREIRA Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

Lee County has had its fair share of squatters, each who has claimed to own the property. But none quite like the one Lee County Sheriff’s deputies arrested after the real homeowner returned to find him behind the wheel of his car.

According to the arrest report, 25-year-old Emmanuel Pierre had broken into a Catalpa Cove home on Wednesday. Deputies confirmed it from a neighbor’s surveillance video, which showed Pierre looking through the windows of multiple homes before he broke into the front window of one of the inhabitable homes and went inside.

And for an entire day, Pierre had made himself right at home as he cooked in their kitchen, drove their car and even installed and played video games in the bedroom.

And residents like Kevin Heck are shocked after hearing something like this had happened in their neighborhood.

“It’s just very disheartening to think that a gated community, this could happen,” he said. “But things like this go on. But I realize there’s a lot of displaced people down here right now, so I can see their side of it too.”

The homeowner had decided to visit the home after receiving multiple alerts from his smart thermostat that the temperature had been changed inside. That’s when deputies say the homeowner had found his home had been broken into and immediately called 911.

Shortly after, he caught Pierre driving his car. The homeowner then attempted to block Pierre until deputies arrived.

But for nearly three months, Lee County has worked to prevent the number of squatters through a new property fraud program, which requires everyone listed on a deed to provide a government-issued photo identification.

Without proof, deputies arrested and charged Pierre for burglary and stealing a car.

As a means of preventing squatters from breaking into homes, several law enforcement departments offer a free vacation home check.

By filling out the request form, police presence will increase throughout the neighborhood of the applicant.

The forms are intended to be filled out for applicants who are planning to be away from home for a set period of time, not for suspicious activity reports.

Refer to these website links for more information:

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