Unwanted neighbors scare homeowner

RALEIGH The house is on Dixie Trail. Millicent Mooring says it's sat empty for more than a decade, and homeless people know it.

"In the day, I fear for my home and belongings, and at night, I fear for my safety," said Mooring. "The people that are vandalizing are squatting there - are taking electricity from my house - and they're taking my water hose to wash their clothes and to bath."

And she isn't the only one with a problem.

"There's seven houses on our block. Five of us have been broken into since July," she said.

The city has ordered the property owner to do something about the problem within two weeks. Under state law, it can't take any action against an abandoned house for a period of one year. After that, it can start proceedings that require it to be demolished if the property is not repaired.

Tearing a house down is a drastic remedy, particularly if someone is about to start the repairs," explained Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker.

The owner of the house according to Wake tax records is Jacob Lackey. The city says he's promised to repair the house, so for now, it's holding off taking action. If work hasn't started in two weeks, the house will come down. If the work isn't finished in 90 days, the house will still come down.

Mooring says she worries that more time for the property owner means more time for uninvited guests.

"Once you come home and someone's been through your stuff, it changes your whole perspective about your safety," she said.

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