Padlocked spigot blocks squatters from water theft

Apartment manager said nearby squatters are stealing water

Janet Cleveland manages an apartment complex at SE 144th and Powell in Portland where, she said, squatters are stealing her water. She padlocked the outside spigot, Sept. 10, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
Janet Cleveland manages an apartment complex at SE 144th and Powell in Portland where, she said, squatters are stealing her water. She padlocked the outside spigot, Sept. 10, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — An apartment manager was forced to lock up the water supply after repeated attempts to steal it, and she blames people she said are squatting nearby.

Janet Cleveland never imagined she’d have to padlock to spigot outside the apartment complex she manages at SE 144th and Powell.

KOIN 6 News reporter Chris Woodard talks with a man who may be a squatter at this house in Southeast Portland, Sept. 10, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
KOIN 6 News reporter Chris Woodard talks with a man who may be a squatter at this house in Southeast Portland, Sept. 10, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

She and her renters caught people filling up 5-gallon jugs of water three times over the last few weeks, she said. With the spigot locked, those people can’t steal the water.

But her tenants can’t use the spigot either.

“I was shocked that someone would actually sneak in, steal your water and then just turn around and leave like it was normal,” Cleveland told KOIN 6 News.

She said at least once the water thief left and walked right across the street to where she said squatters are living in the 14300 block of SE Powell.

When KOIN 6 News went to that house, one person there said, “Don’t disrespect my space.”

Neighbors said the home owner is trying to get the squatters kicked off the property. Utilities were cut to the home, including water.

Janet Cleveland manages an apartment complex at SE 144th and Powell in Portland where, she said, squatters are stealing her water. Sept. 10, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
Janet Cleveland manages an apartment complex at SE 144th and Powell in Portland where, she said, squatters are stealing her water. Sept. 10, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

KOIN 6 News tried but was unable to contact the home owner, both in person and by message.

Cleveland said the apartment complex is “not even allowed to run the sprinklers because of the cost of water. So why should someone else get our water for free when we can’t even use it for what we need it for?”

Police said there have been seven police reports written at the home so far this year. They’re working on stopping the neighborhood problems, authorities said, but the home is a foreclosure, the current owner is not helpful and there is only so much they can do.

Without a responsible home owner or legal authority, police said they just can’t kick someone off a property.

“I just wish they’d get rid of them,” Cleveland said.

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