Police get OK to arrest trespassers at abandoned home
Friday, Feb. 21, 2014

Police get OK to arrest trespassers at abandoned home

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/02/21/12/39/shZwp.Em.138.jpeg|421
    Elisabeth Arriero - earriero@charlotteobserver.com
    The home at 530 McAlway Road shows various signs of neglect, including mail piled up, blankets covering the windows and a broken front porch railing.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/02/21/12/39/1qplAN.Em.138.jpeg|237
    Elisabeth Arriero - earriero@charlotteobserver.com
    An abandoned Cotswold home will no longer be a mecca for squatters after police were granted authority recently to arrest anyone on the property for trespassing,
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/02/21/12/39/bZmu4.Em.138.jpeg|421
    Elisabeth Arriero - earriero@charlotteobserver.com
    In early February, police obtained authority to charge or arrest anyone on the Cotswold property for trespassing. The home also now has a “No Trespassing” sign on the door.

An abandoned Cotswold home will no longer be a mecca for trespassers after police were granted authority recently to arrest anyone on the property for trespassing, said Capt. Karl Bannerman of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police.

The saga of 530 McAlway Road began in August, when residents noticed two men moving into the home.

Neighbors said the owner had abandoned the 2,868-heated-square-foot property at least two years ago after foreclosure proceedings began. But property records indicate the one-story home, valued at $341,400 in 2011, is still owned by James Greeson.

“We started getting calls about suspicious people on (the) property and dogs on the property. So we went out there and made contact with the person,” said Bannerman of the Providence Division police, which oversees Cotswold. “The person indicated that he had documentation that showed he belonged there.”

Bannerman said the documents showed the man had purchased the property, so police left without arresting or charging anyone.

But by Aug. 26, the property had been abandoned again, Bannerman said.

Nothing happened at the home again until October, when police received new reports of people on the property, Bannerman said. This time, police went out with members of Mecklenburg County Code Enforcement.

Authorities said they could tell the property had been abandoned because of piled up mail, blankets covering the windows and other signs of neglect. Police did not, however, find anybody on the property, so they left, Bannerman said.

Police then tried to contact the owner listed in property records, but they were unsuccessful, Bannerman said.

Conditions grew quiet at the home once more. In early February, though, “a lady shows up with a U-Haul and a few kids, and starts to move in,” resident Suzanne Thierry said in a February email to city councilwoman Patsy Kinsey, which was later acquired by the Observer.

Thierry could not be reached for comment as of Thursday afternoon.

Police arrived at the home, and the person in question presented an adverse possession document, Bannerman said.

“We were unfamiliar with it, so we contacted the Register of Deeds, and they gave us information about it,” said Bannerman. “There’s not a lot of legal purpose behind it. It’s a document that is used to obtain abandoned property, but it’s not used very often.”

Police again left without arresting or charging anyone.

By this time, the community had grown frustrated with the home’s growing reputation for being a hot spot for trespassers.

“Understandably I am more than upset. My neighbors are upset,” said Thierry in her email to Kinsey.

In an email to a neighborhood resident on Feb. 4, CMPD Officer Joel Wing said “we actually located the owner of the home in Nebraska and spoke with him. He then gave us contact information for his Power of Attorney, who lives in Lincoln County, N.C. We met with her this afternoon to obtain some legal documents that we need completed.”

Bannerman said Greeson, the owner, was in Nebraska because he works as a long-haul truck driver.

Wing said once the department had authority to act, officers would be able to take action at the home. Bannerman added that the owner told officers he thought the house had already been foreclosed on.

“He told us that if he’d known what was going on, he would have done something about it,” Bannerman said. “He had no idea.”

In early February, police obtained authority to act. Now they can charge or arrest anyone on the property for trespassing. Bannerman said authorities are keeping a close watch on the home, which now has a prominent “No Trespassing” sign on the door.

He said he’s glad the case has found a resolution because abandoned homes with trespassers can often become havens for criminal activity.

“The people there illegally may start to take advantage of the people who live in that neighborhood,” Bannerman said. “It was a complicated situation, but we’re glad we were able to come to a successful resolution for the neighborhood.”

He credited neighbors for keeping the issue at the forefront of authorities’ minds.

Rebecca Glavin, who said she had begun to question the neighborhood after moving there last May, added that she, too, was impressed by how the community rallied to solve the problem.

“They took a stand,” she said. “It was a really nice feeling to know that my neighbors were looking out for everyone.”

Arriero: 704-358-5945; Twitter: @earriero

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