VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — It has been a six-year battle to remove squatters from a Virginia Beach property and as of April 7, the so-called “living structure” is finally gone.
It was made apparent just how quickly a skid-steer loader can cut through a squatter’s living structure as Virginia Beach resident Everette Brown got in the operator’s seat and plowed forward.
We have been reporting on this and following up with Brown and a neighboring property owner who has been trying for years to get squatters to leave the Curtis Wilson estate in Virginia Beach.
Wilson and Brown have met with an attorney, gone to court, and even tried to reason with the squatters themselves. This in addition to Wilson filing a trespassing charge against Jineil Hayes who is the girlfriend of Mike Bateman, the original squatter.
When Bateman was found guilty of trespassing by a judge on March 6 he left, but that same day it appears Hayes took over the property.
On Saturday, March 7, WAVY’s Andy Fox stopped by the property to look around and while he was there, Hayes pulled up in her van. She put new “No Trespassing” signs up with her name on them and appeared very angry when she saw it was Andy Fox on the Curtis Wilson family property.
Wilson gave 10 On Your Side permission to be on the property, so we felt comfortable being there.
The squatters have since left the property and when it appeared as though they abandoned for good, Brown took matters into his own hands.
He went inside the structure before tearing it down.
“There is an AC unit. A propane heat line running through the door, which is illegal. There is a bedroom in an upstairs loft, there are couches and windows, and there is a makeshift bathroom,” said Brown.
The structure was built by squatter Bateman who got friends to help him fortify it with drywall.
After years of fighting to get the structure off the two properties, Brown thought he had heard it all.
“Well, I was utterly shocked to hear there was a policy written on this structure.”
That’s right, an Allstate Sr. Claim Service Adjuster confirmed to Brown and 10 On Your Side that the structure was in fact, insured.
“They told me ‘Mike Bateman’ was the insured, and the structure is what was insured,” Brown explained.
Allstate apparently insured the shelter which had no running water and no solid concrete foundation. Additionally, Bateman was not the owner and had no permission to be on the property.
“They didn’t give us any reason as to why they wrote a policy, which is what really shocks us.”
Bateman refused to comment and so did Allstate, which is now investigating how Bateman was able to get an insurance policy on the structure in the first place.
As Brown took down the makeshift home, you could tell he was driven by years of frustration. The claws on the loader chomped the roof off, lifting it from the base of the home. Brown then went after the walls and windows.
They fell one by one. Loud sounds from the loader echoing down Saint Pauls Street.
He dug out the drywall that was holding the shelter together.
“We have to get rid of the structure and if we don’t, it’s going to be another homeless man who will end up in it, so we need to take this down today,” Brown told us.
We asked Brown what he was thinking as he sliced through the structure.
“I just want the city to see what we are dealing with. This isn’t just a homeless situation; this is a vagrant situation. This is a problem that we are dealing with, and the city is not dealing with it.”
Brown continued digging through the structure.
“This is what our city officials need to look at. They need to see this isn’t just happening here. It is happening off Birdneck Road; it is happening in Virginia Beach,” he said. “Look at this. It is a mess. No one is dealing with this, but us. The city isn’t paying for this cleanup. We are.”
10 On Your Side first got involved in this story in February which is long after Brown had been dealing with it since 2014.
“If it weren’t for your stories, your investigative reporting, we would not be here. There is no doubt about it,” Brown said. “Virginia Beach has made changes and as a result of what you have done. The police department has been more proactive trying to take care of the situation and that wouldn’t have happened without you.”
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