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Family prepares for move

Two days after a police cruiser plowed into his house in Seminole Heights, 7-year-old Pedro Torres Jr. didn't relish the prospect of moving out.

"It's not good. I don't like moving," Pedro said from the brown shag-carpeted floor where he was watching television Friday evening. "Here is better. I got a basketball hoop to play with. We got a chimney where Santa Claus can come."

But Pedro's family likely will have to leave the wood-frame bungalow at 801 E Giddens Ave. that they moved into only three months ago. Cracks in the plaster walls of the dining room and kitchen show the stress from the impact of a police car that hit the back porch Wednesday night. Pedro Torres Sr. said the family wants to stay but would be in the way when a construction crew comes to repair the house.

Maria Cardones, Torres' wife, said she had an appointment today to look at an apartment on Armenia Avenue near the Tampa Housing Authority.

Cardones and her family have had offers of help in the two days since police crashed a cruiser into the house while chasing a suspect. Mike McNabb, the city of Tampa's chief of claims and safety, said he visited the family Thursday and Friday and asked if they would like to stay at a motel. Both times the answer was no. The Red Cross contacted the Tampa Police Department on Friday morning to offer lodging for the family.

Torres didn't deny that his family had been offered a place to stay. He said he was simply afraid to leave.

"We have no choice," Torres said. "We could go to a motel, but then who will watch our things? We're afraid that if we go somewhere, they'll take the little things that we've got."

McNabb said a city inspector who looked at the house Friday afternoon declared it habitable.

For now, McNabb said, the city has done all it can. "We're hoping that the landlord's insurance company will come out with an adjustor and make repairs to the porch," he said. "The city isn't in any position to do anything to the house. We're not the owner."

_ TAYLOR WARD

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