Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Vacant St. Pete home attracts creepy trespassers until neighbors act

The house at 1457 40th Ave. NE has been vacant for three years. Neighbors fed up with neglect and intrusions by teens boarded up a broken window, mowed and paid a lawn service to further clean up.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

The house at 1457 40th Ave. NE has been vacant for three years. Neighbors fed up with neglect and intrusions by teens boarded up a broken window, mowed and paid a lawn service to further clean up.

ST. PETERSBURG — In a neighborhood lined with canals, manicured lawns and homes that cost up to $400,000 sits an abandoned house that has served as a teenage hangout.

The overgrown lawn and broken windows at 1457 40th Ave. NE were bad enough, but when cops were called to chase away three teenagers hidden inside, neighbor Julie Johnson's frustration hit a new level.

"It makes me feel unsafe," she said recently. "We live in a nice neighborhood with tailored yards. The neighbors are friendly with each other. To know that something like this is going on is scary."

A code enforcement officer called the police after seeing teens inside the long-abandoned house. Before the police arrived, three kids ran out the back.

The foreclosure crisis literally left the door open to the homeless and teens to trespass on empty homes, said the city's director of codes compliance, Gary Bush. It takes a while for the city to stop trespassers from sneaking into a vacant house.

The codes department notifies the owner, whether a bank or individual, that the house needs to be better secured and then waits for a response. If after about two weeks there is no word, the city can send someone out to make the house harder to enter.

Johnson and a neighbor didn't wait that long. After all the commotion, she and the neighbor decided to investigate the house near Shore Acres that has sat empty for about three years.

"Somebody was living in the living room. There was a large pipe that was hanging from one corner to the other, and it had rolls and rolls of toilet paper hanging on it like they were making a screen," said the 42-year-old mother of two. "The air conditioning was on. It was 68 degrees, which is cooler than my house."

There were also more than 20 open gallons of paint and several hair dryers lying around, she said.

A few clicks on the Internet and talks with a neighbor who works in drug enforcement led Johnson to think that someone was heating the paint with a hair dryer to get high.

"Nice," Johnson said.

She saw lighters everywhere, burned spots on the carpet and paint splashes on the walls, which had several big holes, as if they'd been kicked or hit with something.

After seeing the eerie scene inside the 2,000-square-foot home, Johnson and her neighbor boarded up a broken window. Johnson mowed the front yard, and then several neighbors chipped in to pay a lawn service to mow the back and clean up the rest of the landscaping.

Heather Odell, who with her husband, Jerome, owns the house, said the situation is out of her control. They are in the midst of a divorce and he is in charge of the house.

"I'm really sorry to hear this has affected the neighbors there. They were really wonderful," said Odell, who has lived in Citrus County for several years. "I had no idea it was in this condition."

Odell said she gave the keys to the house to her husband in August 2012. She would like to sell the property, but the divorce is slowing the process.

Jerome Odell could not be reached for comment. Though the house has been neglected physically, it is up to date on property taxes. Property records show that the Odells bought the house in 1998 for $98,000. The Pinellas County property appraiser's website shows it has a market value of $133,000.

Katherine Snow Smith can be reached at kssmith@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8785.

Vacant St. Pete home attracts creepy trespassers until neighbors act 11/26/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 26, 2013 2:30pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Review / photos: Sunset Music Festival brings Major Lazer, safety upgrades to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa

    Blogs

    Somewhere beyond the barricades and mountainous LED stages of the Sunset Music Festival, there had to be worry. There had to thousands of parents in parking lots and empty kitchens, anxiously distracting their minds, every now and then checking their phones.

    Major Lazer headlined the Sunset Music Festival on May 27, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
  2. 24-year-old man charged with murder in shooting at Andrea Cove Motel

    LARGO — Pinellas sheriff's officers arrested a 24-year-old transient man Saturday in connection with a homicide at the Andrea Cove Motel in unincorporated Largo.

  3. Photo gallery: Calvary Christian rolls to state title

    Blogs

    View a gallery of images from Calvary Christian's defeat of Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers for the Class 4A title.

    Calvary Christian players circle up on the field before the FHSAA class 4A baseball championship against Pensacola Catholic on Friday May 27, 2017 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. Calvary scored 6 runs in the first inning, and had 7 hits.
  4. Two girls found safe after being reported missing in New Port Richey

    UPDATE: Both girls were found safe Saturday night, police said.

  5. IT failure blamed for British Airways cancellations (w/video)

    Airlines

    LONDON — British Airways canceled all flights from London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports on Saturday as a global IT failure upended the travel plans of tens of thousands of people on a busy U.K. holiday weekend.

    Passengers wait at a British Airways check-in desk after the airport suffered an IT systems failure Saturday at London''s Gatwick Airport. [Associated Press]