What do you call it when you go out of town or get deployed and come back to a filthy stranger encamped in your house – home invasion? Burglary? If you guessed “none of the above” you are correct. Because of nuances in how laws were written to cover home invasion and burglary, the above situation does not qualify, and law enforcement is forced to treat the scenario more like a landlord/tenant dispute than a serious crime.
Sadly, there has been an increasing trend in this disgusting criminal behavior as vagrants have caught onto this loophole that can allow them to remain in the property for days or weeks after their offense is identified. A group of Colorado Springs lawmakers, led by State Rep. Dave Williams, introduced a bill this week dto correct this injustice, and allow law enforcement to forcibly remove these squatters without the insulting delay tactics that victims have to endure today.
The bill directs peace officers to remove squatters upon receipt of a simple sworn statement by the owner or his agent asserting that the squatter is there illegally. It also clarifies that if the squatter damages or modifies the home, he is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor. That part seems a bit light, considering the massive amount of property damage that squatters could inflict on a home, but it is certainly better than nothing.