Abandoned apartments rife with crime

August 2, 2009 7:03:05 PM PDT
Some residents are worried about an apartment complex in southeast Houston that's vacant and has caught fire several times. Now people who live near the complex want them gone. The latest fire was just last week. People in the area are afraid most fires could happen near their homes. They say people are still hanging out in the apartments off Sabo and Kingspoint.

With broken windows and trash littering the lawn, these apartments are by no means pretty. However, neighbors say this is far more than just an eyesore, it's a magnet for crime.

The abandoned Almeda Chateau apartments should be empty, but the doors are wide open and inside there are signs of life.

"Just about a few weeks ago, I had seen some heads -sticking out from there," said Mary Camacho.

Camacho lives just across the fence and says she's been burglarized and solicited for money and drugs. She blames the squatters and she says she's seen make themselves at home here.

"They were moving a couch, a chair, a table to eat on, they were moving BBQ pits," said Camacho.

Back in March, the city shut down these apartments because of unpaid water bills and a number of health code violations including rats and mold. At the time, the city said it planned to demolish them immediately.

However, five months later the apartments are still here and still attracting trouble.

"We've had people drive through our fence. We've had people jump our fence and run through our yard," said Paula Hathorn.

Hathorn told us she's called firefighters twice to respond to dumpster fires behind her parents' home.

Then last Wednesday, firefighters had to put out two suspicious fires at the apartments, set within half an hour of each other.

"They need to go. They need to be torn down," said Hathorn.

Neighbors say their patience has run out.

"It's just a small community around here and we don't know what to do anymore," said Camacho.

Neighbors say they do call police, but that by the time officers get here, the troublemakers are usually gone.

We called the city to find out why these buildings haven't been knocked down, but couldn't find anyone over the weekend.

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