Squatters take over multimillion-dollar Sammamish home, police say hands are tied
A multimillion-dollar home in Sammamish is at the center of an ongoing investigation after squatters broke in and made the home their own.
“The amount of guns, drugs, et cetera that were confiscated out of that place are not for personal use or for any good reason,” Sammamish Police Chief Dan Pingrey told KIRO 7 TV. “I totally recognize how frustrating it is for the neighborhood and it’s just as frustrating for us to be honest with you.”
The homeowner lives overseas, but a few people living locally help maintain the home with routine checkups. One of those workers stopped by the home and found 12 guns, bulletproof vests, more than 15,000 fentanyl pills, heroin, meth, and over $40,000 in cash.
The worker called 911 and police arrived on scene.
“As we were beginning to take a look at our next steps, an unlicensed motorcycle showed up with two people on it,” Pingrey said.
Neighbors identified the two people as the squatters and both were arrested for burglary, according to Pingrey. They were out of jail within days and headed back to the home, bringing more people with them.
“After they were out of jail, we had a large group trying to get back into the house,” Pingrey said. “No one was supposed to be there. The homeowners were not allowing anyone to stay there.”
Pingrey told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson Show that the squatters had been there close to a month.
Taking the advice of local prosecutors and lawyers, Pingrey said law enforcement is limited in what they can do in this scenario. His frustrations hit a boiling point when the squatters demanded to be allowed to take property inside the home with them. Pingrey said, legally, his hands were tied and officers conducted a “civil standby.”
Pictures taken by a neighbor show police vehicles lined up on the street with officers watching as the squatters filled a U-Haul truck. Another picture shows a garage full of appliances, including an ATM.
“We were not allowed to go in there with them and had to allow them to take this property out,” Pingrey told KIRO 7 TV. “The person who had been illegally living there (was able) to come in and get what they stated was their property.”
A worker for the homeowner was on the property Monday. He said he was changing the locks to the home. A home security technician was also there.
“Somehow these squatters who are living in this residence have as much rights as the homeowner. And that’s very difficult for any of us to understand,” Pingrey told KIRO 7 TV. “It could happen again somewhere else and this is where people in communities really need to be diligent.”
If you were to come home after a long trip away and find people in your own house, Pingrey told Dori that the best course of action is to call 911.
“The smart thing to do would be to back out and call 911, and that would be the recommendation to anyone,” he said. “… But the tougher part is once you know that these people have been in there, they’ve been arrested and gone away, that then you have to allow them to come back and take items they claim are theirs.”
Pingrey clarified that it was the civil unit from the sheriff’s office, legal, and the prosecutor’s office that told police the squatters were allowed to return to get their property.
“I guess the statement that I will make is this, is that we need all of our officials to make common sense decisions,” Pingrey told Dori. “And I believe in the legal system and, ultimately, if they need to go to court and allow a judge and/or a jury to make the determination as to whether or not they violated the law and there should be penalties, that would be great.”
“I believe that they will be charged, and that is our recommendation,” he added.
KIRO 7 TV reporter Kevin Ko contributed to this report.