New Neighbors in Kent Co. Turn out to Be Alleged Squatters - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

New Neighbors in Kent Co. Turn out to Be Alleged Squatters

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CAMDEN, Del. (WBOC) - It was a shocking discovery for people living in a Kent County neighborhood. People they thought were new neighbors turned out to allegedly be squatting in a bank-owned home that was supposed to be vacant - a big home in a nice neighborhood.

On the front the door of the house on Tuesday there were Halloween decorations. Now there's a "no trespassing sign."

"It's been abandoned for about four years," said Jamie Fairbanks, who lives next door. "We've been looking forward to getting some neighbors in there."

And that's what she thought happened about a month ago.

But Tuesday Keith Penawell showed up at the house. He owns Penwood Lawn Care and does property preservation for bank-owned homes.

"The property was supposed to be vacant. We show up, and there are 'Happy Halloween' signs on the door. We got alarmed somebody was in the house who shouldn't have been," he said. "As soon as we popped the locks and cracked the door, an alarm went off. They'd just had Xfinity installed."

Penawell called the police, who went through the house. The people living there showed up and were allowed to take their stuff before the house was locked again.

Penawell says this isn't an isolated problem. His company has about 300 homes on its roster between Delaware and southeastern Pennsylvania.

"About 35 or 40 percent of the houses we go into have had doors kicked in, copper, appliances stolen, people staying in them," he said. "They go on the property. They get utilities. They look legit. They cut the grass. They put up decorations. It all makes it look legit."

"Very scary, very scary," said Fairbanks.

Fairbanks says even though the home is now empty again, the whole situation leaves her uneasy.

"I would like to feel comfortable with my kids around in this neighborhood. With this happening, I really don't. Who are these people? We don't know."

Penawell says when it comes to something like this if it seems suspicious, call the police.

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