Area realtor, police share details and warnings of near encounter with squatter

Published 12:18 am Tuesday, February 27, 2024

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GROVES — A longtime local realtor showing a home recently had a near encounter with a squatter who likely had just left after taking a shower before her arrival.

Holly Hinds of JLA Realty is cautioning others to be aware of their surroundings.

Nothing seemed unusual Friday morning when Hinds and her husband met with prospective buyers at a home in the 5200 block of 32nd Street in Groves.

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Hines, her husband and clients entered the home where the thermostat was at 90 degrees. She went down the hall to turn off the heat while her husband went to the kitchen area.

As Hinds showed the house she noticed the doors to the rooms were all closed, which is unusual.

She had shown the house the week before and on Thursday had the water turned on.

The first indication something wasn’t right was when she opened the bedroom door to see a mattress on the floor with clothes on top, beer bottles, a bed tray to eat on and a City of Groves garbage can in the room.

Around this time her husband came from out of the kitchen and said, “get out.” Inside the kitchen someone had used an electric skillet and cooked a meal.

“We called Groves police, and they were there immediately,” she said.

Groves Police Interim City Marshal Chris Robin said authorities received the call at approximately 10:30 a.m. Friday, where they were requested to check the home and see if anyone was inside — there wasn’t.

Robin said no one was found but miscellaneous items were inside that did not belong in the house and one window was broken.

Groves Police Department was requested to perform a special patrol in the area.

“It’s not uncommon,” Robin said, adding some time in late November or early December police were called to a similar situation, where a squatter had been in a house.

The interim city marshal believes the person may have been trying to get out of the cold in this instance.

He said the lockbox with the key was still in place but the door was pushed in.

“It’s important to stay vigilant in your neighborhood and report any suspicious activity,” he said.

Hinds said during their tour of the house she noticed someone had just taken a shower — the floor was still wet.

“I feel like he left right before I got there,” she said.

The house had minimal damage from the break-in.

Hinds admits to feeling uneasy that day.

“Listen to your instincts,” she said.

Hinds realizes the danger in showing a house to a stranger and does what she can to protect herself, but this was unexpected, she said.

In more than 35 years in the business, Hinds has never had such an encounter.

“Be cautious. These are different times,” she said. “It can happen to anyone.”