iteam investigation

‘Squatter' Arrested After Trying to Steal Hospitalized Man's Clairemont Home: Police

Neighbors in Clairemont spoke up to protect a family they hardly knew

NBC Universal, Inc.

"It's alright," Jeffrey Goddard said to a group of neighbors on the street as officers escorted him to a patrol car in handcuffs. "I’ll be back."

Days earlier, neighbors said Goddard told them he deserves to live in the Clairemont house where he’d spent nearly every night for more than a week.

Thing is, he didn’t buy the house and he isn’t renting it either.

Goddard told officers he saw it on the news last month, after carbon monoxide poisoning sent the 84-year-old homeowner to the hospital. The homeowner's adult daughter was found inside the home dead.

Soon after, neighbors tell NBC 7 they watched Goddard change the locks, replace the door and even receive Amazon packages.

"The gentleman [homeowner] is still alive," said Kathy, a neighbor who asked NBC 7 to only use her first name. "There should be no reason that this person should be allowed in this house."

When Kathy and other neighbors confronted Goddard, they say he claimed squatters rights. Get this –- the family learned that he paid the property taxes on the home, and changed the utilities to his name, too.

"We all feel vulnerable," another neighbor named Trudy said. "And unsettled. Because you never imagine anything like this."

"The whole neighborhood believes that we need to help [the homeowner]," Kathy said. "We didn’t know him but we need to help him."

Neighbors contacted the homeowner's closest living relative, his niece April Todd, who resides in Texas.

Todd said she couldn't believe a complete stranger could change locks, pay her uncle's property taxes or switch the name on the utility bills. She hopes lawmakers take note of her uncle's story and make laws tougher on squatters.

"It has been a living nightmare," said Todd. "I couldn’t sleep. I would just close my eyes and I would just see this guy in my uncle’s house."

Neighbors couldn't sleep either -- many took videos of Goddard coming and going, and noted his routine and whereabouts to police.

They say their efforts paid off. Bills paid or not, police arrested Goddard over the weekend for a slew of charges including burglary, theft of an elderly adult, and identity theft.

As of Monday afternoon, Goddard is still booked in the San Diego County Jail. His arraignment is set for Thursday.

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