Squatters take over Lynnwood property; already back following SWAT raid

LYNNWOOD, Wash. — Squatters took over a homeowner’s property in unincorporated Lynnwood on Locust Way. All the problems and crime stemming from the home led to a massive raid by Snohomish County law enforcement on Wednesday.

Investigators found 52 cars on the land – some of them reported stolen – along with drugs and firearms.

Neighbors and the property owner say they’ve been dealing with squatters at the property for about three years, since the beginning of the pandemic.

“A bunch of criminals,” said Laleh Kashani, the homeowner. “They took over the house and we couldn’t collect a dollar of rent, and have a mortgage,” she said.

Lieutenant David Hayes was among the 30 or so law enforcement officers who were part of the raid. Hayes said the Snohomish County Auto Theft Task Force (SNOCAT) had been looking into the property for about six months.

It was determined a nuisance house after repeated reports of crime, prompting numerous visits from the sheriff’s office.

“Is ‘chop shop’ a good way to describe it?” KIRO 7′s Deedee Sun asked.

“I think that’s probably an accurate statement,” Hayes said.  “Multiple people living or staying there, short term and long term. They have no ownership of the property and it’s very unhealthy and unstable living conditions.”

They arrested five people – three on previous warrants, and two on new charges. Already, one suspect has bailed out.

Hayes said it would be a long-term investigation figuring out who was connected with which crimes, and that detectives would be asking prosecutors to add charges as the case developed.

Multiple neighbors said they were hopeful after seeing a raid was happening at the property. However, the squatters quickly returned.

“I thought that it would be over, but then it started. As soon as they left last night, it started up,” said Benny Whitson, a long-time resident of the neighborhood. “It’s been very dangerous.”

Kashani said after the raid,  she had a contractor install brand new locks on all the doors.

“We changed the locks and they even broke that. So they should at least be arrested for breaking in, and they didn’t do that,” Kashani said.

Hayes said while he’s involved in the criminal investigation, evicting squatters is a civil process typically left up to the property owner.

“That (process) sometimes gets a little bit long,” Hayes said. “Unfortunately, they still are going to have some continued issues because there’s really nothing holding those folks from coming back on the property.”

Kashani says after years of dealing with this, she’s about to give up and move out of state. She said her husband recently passed away, and now she’s left to raise kids, work, and deal with this alone.

“I literally cry,” she said. “I’m going to give up, I’m going to lose my house. Whatever we owe on it, let the bank take it,” Kashani said.

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