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Landlords find surprise visitor

Homeless woman was in bedroom

Beach-Barber Tract resident Maureen Dunfee recently checked in on the vacation rental she and her husband own and found something completely unexpected: a homeless woman in a bedroom.

“Nobody had rented it for awhile and she had removed one of the screens and crawled through the window into the house,” said Dunfee, adding something eerily was “not right” at 7:20 p.m. Feb. 18 when she did a routine check of the rental across the street from their own residence. Then she noticed a bedroom door was closed when it shouldn’t have been.

“There was a big mound in the bed,” she continued, “and she woke up and sat up in bed and I said, ‘What are you doing? Why are you in my house?’ She said, ‘I’m sorry. I’m a Christian woman … If you knew my story - you’d let me stay.”

A startled Dunfee ran across the street and alerted her husband who called the police. The homeless woman gathered her things and vacated the premises. Police responded quickly and arrested her a short time later at the nearby Taco Bell.

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What happened to the Dunfees is rare, said San Diego Police Lt. Jim Filley, whose duty area includes La Jolla. But he added that citywide, with the worsening economy, there’s more trespassing occurring on vacant properties.

“We’ve had instances of houses going into foreclosure and being vacated and squatters coming in there, even moving in furniture,” he said. “They’ve have had to call police to have them removed.”

He added that “responsible property owners need to work with us to make sure their property is secure so these types of things don’t ramp up for us.”

Dunfee said she is still a little shocked by the experience but has taken added precautions to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

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“We have a locksmith scheduled to change all the locks,” she said. “We’re doing a lot more to make sure nothing’s out of place, even leaving lights on inside now so we can see if anybody’s moving around. We’re going to have an alarm installed inside the house.”