Tuesday, July 14, 2009

SWAT team called to save hijacked house


Sharon and Doug Larson were on their way back from the Oregon coast last week when neighbors told them a stranger had hijacked their house.

Neighbors called 911 when James Vanvolkenburg moved into the Larson's home Friday night, claiming the house belonged to him. Police officers who arrived said Vanvolkenburg's name was on the tax records, so they let him stay.

"He's there with this woman and their dog and my belongings, sleeping in my bed," Sharon said.

With help from her sister, Sharon went to the courthouse Monday morning and discovered that Vanvolkenburg may have tried to take advantage a foreclosure proceeding against her house.

Vanvolkenburg allegedly submitted his name six months ago as the taxpayer of record.

The county treasurer's office told her that all Vanvolkenburg did was fill out a form asking for tax statements on the house.

County officials told the Problem Solvers that the little piece of paper does not prove ownership, even if someone lived in a house for years.

"He's had history with the property," Sharon's sister said. "He used to live there years ago. He was evicted by his brother."

Sharon took the papers to the sheriff's office and made one more plea. Deputies promised to arrest Vanvolkenburg for trespassing.

"And maybe we will turn it into burglary if he went into the house and committed another crime there," sheriff spokesman John Urquhart said.

A SWAT team searched the home Monday evening but Vanvolkenburg was not inside. He left behind his dog and two trailers still parked on the property.

Sharon is packing up some of her possessions in case Vanvolkenburg comes back to the house, and the sheriff's office said deputies will be there tomorrow to keep watch while she moves out larger items.

The county said they receive about 21,000 taxpayer change of address requests each year and they've never had anything like this happen before.

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