Squatters take over multimillion-dollar Sammamish home, police say hands are tied

SAMMAMISH, Wash. — A multimillion-dollar home in Sammamish is at the center of an ongoing investigation, as squatters continue to break in and make the home their own.

“The amount of guns, drugs, etcetera that were confiscated out of that place are not for personal use or for any good reason,” Sammamish Police Chief Dan Pingrey said. “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 more than $40,000 in cash.

The worker called 911 and police arrived on scene.

>>Pierce County homeowners find alleged squatter changing locks on their home.

“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. Both 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.”

Taking the advice of local prosecutors and lawyers, Pingrey said law enforcement is limited in what they can do. 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 with items inside. 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 said. “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 said. “It could happen again somewhere else and this is where people in communities really need to be diligent.”