Homeowners find alleged squatter changing locks on home after they say he broke in

PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. — Homeowners say they found a man who allegedly broke into a house in Roy on Tuesday. They say the stranger was trying to change the locks on a house that wasn’t his, even filling the fridge with food.

The incident happened around 1 p.m. on 284th Street E in a rural area of Roy in Pierce County.

The last owner of the house, who KIRO7 is identifying only as T, said he had just sold the property a week ago when he heard there was a problem. He asked KIRO7 not to share his name because he does work around the region clearing homeless encampments.

“Neighbors called us multiple times today and said someone was breaking into the house. They had the garage doors open, they were changing the locks,” T said.

He rushed down and found a man at the front door with locks and tools spread out.

KIRO7 is not showing the stranger’s face because he hasn’t been charged with a crime.

“How’d you get in here?” T asked the man. “Coming into the house that’s not yours!” he said in the video.

“He was just nonchalantly telling me he wasn’t leaving basically. It was pretty shocking, bold,” T said.

When deputies showed up and asked more questions, the man doesn’t appear to have any clear answers.

“I was told I could live here,” the stranger said. You hear a deputy say, “Who told you that?”

“Doesn’t matter,” the stranger said.

T said they reached the new homeowner through the realtor, who confirmed the stranger was not given permission to be on the property.

“They broke into the back door of the garage,” T said. He said it appears the man was looking to settle in.

“He was going to change the locks, I’m sure, and he was going to try and stay in there,” T said. “We think he was there for more than one day because there was food in the refrigerator, he had been cooking, there was food and dirty plates in the sink,” he said.

Finally, the deputy gets the man to leave after the stranger asks for a ride.

“Where do you need a ride to?” you hear a deputy say in the video.

But the stranger is facing no charges.

The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department says nothing was taken from this property, and the most likely charge - if one were filed - would be trespass -- a low-level misdemeanor. A spokesperson said deputies did not immediately write up a report on the case.

In an update Thursday, the Sheriff’s Department said after the deputy reached the new homeowner, he did write a report on the trespass incident. However, the new homeowner was not interested in pressing charges.

“I can’t file charges, it’s not my home,” T said. “It’s really frustrating.”

The Sheriff’s Department also added that COVID policies are still in place for the jail, which means only people charged with the worst felonies like first-degree assault, kidnapping, murder and certain burglaries are taken into custody.