Police warn of squatters during summer vacation

Posted Thursday, June 26, 2014 --- 9:21 p.m.

Madison Police are warning you to double check who's living next door to you. Police arrested a 64-year-old man, Oscar Williams, earlier this week for squatting in a home on the east side of Madison.

Madison Police Public Information Officer Howard Payne said they come across squatters fairly regularly, especially in summer when people are away on vacation.

“A lot of time, these people are watching your activities, so if you go on vacation for a few weeks... if you don't have someone checking on your home, you might not be privy to any type of activity that might be going on,” Payne said.

Squatters set up a day-by-day residence in homes or garages, seeking a place to sleep, cook and go to the bathroom. It doesn't take long for them to “set up,” so squatters could stay for just a few days.

Neighbor Barb Staplemann said she was surprised to hear about the squatter, since her neighbors often watch out for each other.

“I feel sorry for people who have no place to live but I don't think that's right to go into someone's home without permission,” she said.

Payne encourages people to watch out for cracked windows or open doors at their neighbors' homes, since each of those could be access points for squatters.

“I'm certainly going to tell everyone around here and make them more aware,” Staplemann said. “And I think the more the word spreads, we'll be more aware of what's going on.”

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