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Continued: 'Zombie' homes sit in limbo

  • Article by: JUNE FLETCHER , Scripps Howard News Service
  • Last update: October 31, 2013 - 7:40 PM

Homes that sit vacant for long periods are a magnet for vandals and thieves who steal everything from air-conditioning units to copper piping, said Sgt. Mark Williamson of the criminal investigations unit of the Collier County Sheriff’s Office in Naples. Some also attract scammers, particularly in isolated, heavily landscaped areas with big lots.

“They’ll break in, change the locks, and rent the home to an unsuspecting victim,” he said.

That’s exactly what happened to the Sparkers, who went back to their vacated Golden Gate Estates home in April 2012 to retrieve some curtains and discovered a woman and her three young sons had moved into it.

“We heard music playing — it was quite a shock,” said Steven Sparker, 58, a prototype tool and die maker.

“I wish the bank would take it back,” he said.

  • related content

  • An equal housing opportunity sign is taped to the window of a bank-owned home in Lantana, Fla., 10 miles south of Palm Beach. Florida has more than 50,000 “zombie homes.”

  • The Blanford Homes LLC Power Ranch community stands in Gilbert, Arizona, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012. The Phoenix housing market, down 55 percent from peak values with more than two-thirds of homeowners owing more than their properties are worth, is starting to recover as demand grows and inventory shrinks. Photographer: Laura Segall/Bloomberg ORG XMIT: 137420392

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