Police decline to file charges after couple finds intruders in home

They say it was the result of a scam; homeowners contend it was a break-in

Dave Franzman
Published: April 6 2012 | 2:44 pm - Updated: 3 April 2014 | 4:18 pm in
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CEDAR RAPIDS — A couple whose home is on the market say they found two intruders and evidence that someone had forced their way inside last weekend, but police don’t plan to file any charges.

John and Julie Freeman said they bought a house on 26th Street NW last winter and fixed it up with the intention of selling it again. Last Sunday, John Freeman said he went to the home to check on things and found his key to the front door wasn’t working. He said he instead used the garage door opener to gain access, and was surprised by what he found inside.

“I heard a radio playing and looked and saw a sleeping bag with a lump in it and turned around and got out of the house and called police,” he said.

Cedar Rapids police officers responded and found two women inside. The two insisted they had not broken in, but had rented the house via an ad on Craigslist.

But the Freemans said they found broken glass by a kitchen window and evidence someone had tried to force a patio door open.

“It’s obvious someone broke in,” Julie Freeman said. “They held onto the faucet trying to hoist themselves in through the kitchen window. The faucet was not dusted for fingerprints.”

The Freemans said they believe police missed other clues that a crime had been committed and were disappointed to find out charges would not be filed.

But Sgt. Cristy Hamblin, a spokeswoman for the Cedar Rapids Police Department, said the evidence wasn’t as clear as the Freemans say.

Hamblin said investigators found that the women inside the house had a receipt for a $500 security deposit wired to Nigeria. She said the women also told investigators that the online ad had said the owner was overseas and would send the house key after their deposit money had arrived.

Hamblin said the women said that when the key did not arrive, the women hired a locksmith to come to the home and open it up.

“We can’t prove the people who were living there were the ones who had done the damage to break into the residence,” Hamblin said. “That’s where the proof lies, who did the damage?”

The Freemans said the damage to their home was about $500. Hamblin said the Freemans could take the women to civil court to try to collect damages.

People trying to illegally rent homes is a scam that has caught others before, police say.

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