Sammamish is a very upscale city east of Seattle where the price of homes can reach up to several million dollars. One of those homes recently was targeted by a group of squatters who appear to have been using it as a stash house. The scheme was discovered when someone working for the homeowner entered the home and found “12 guns, bulletproof vests, more than 15,000 fentanyl pills, heroin, meth, and more than $40,000 in cash.”
The worker called police who showed up to collect the drugs and the loot. As they were deciding what to do next, two people pulled up on a motorcycle. Neighbors identified them as the squatters who’d been living in the house. Police arrested them for burglary but, because this is Seattle, they were back on the street in a matter of days.
The squatters soon returned to the house and this time they brought friends. Police Chief Dan Pingrey had no choice but to stand by while they loaded up a U-haul with what they claimed were their belongings.
“After they were out of jail, we had a large group trying to get back into the house,” Pingrey said. “No one was supposed to be there. The homeowners were not allowing anyone to stay there.”
Taking the advice of local prosecutors and lawyers, Pingrey said law enforcement is limited in what they can do. His frustrations hit a boiling point when the squatters demanded to be allowed to take property inside the home with them. Pingrey said, legally, his hands were tied and officers conducted a “civil standby.”
Pictures taken by a neighbor show police vehicles lined up on the street with officers watching, as the squatters filled a U-Haul truck with items inside. Another picture shows a garage full of appliances, including an ATM.
“We were not allowed to go in there with them and had to allow them to take this property out,” Pingrey said. “The person who had been illegally living there (was able) to come in and get what they stated was their property.”
That’s right, there was an ATM in the garage. That’s a weird thing to have. Did anyone check to see where it came from? Did the squatters take it with them? Like so much else in this story, it’s not clear.
What I want to know is why these people were let out of jail given the very strong circumstantial evidence that they are serious drug dealers. Did they claim the pills and money belonged to the homeowner? Why exactly are they back on the street much less filling up a U-haul with merchandise which may or may not be theirs.
There’s a video report on this from KIRO 7 but it’s not on YouTube yet so you’ll have to click here to watch it. Chief Pingrey concludes, “Somehow these squatters who are living in this residence seem to have at least as much rights as the homeowner.”