Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Woman breaks in & re-decorates

Douglasville, Georgia - A woman came home from a vacation in Greece to find a stranger playing house, changing utilities into her name and even repainting a room she didn't like.

Douglas County authorities say they can't explain why Beverly Valentine, 54, broke into an empty home in suburban Atlanta and started acting like it was her own.

During the two-and-a-half weeks the owner was on vacation, Valentine allegedly redecorated the ranch home, ripping up carpet and taking down the owner's pictures and replacing them with her own.

Valentine didn't know the owner, said Chief Sheriff's Deputy Stan Copeland. He said he had no idea how Valentine knew the owner was gone and how she thought she'd get away with moving into a stranger's home and acting as if it were her own. "In 28 years, I've never seen something this strange," Copeland said.

The odd case came to light when Beverly Mitchell, who lived alone, returned home October 4 to find the lights on and a strange car parked in the driveway. Mitchell called police, who went in and found Valentine, who at first pretended she was renting the home. Later, Copeland said, she admitted she broke into the house with a shovel and was squatting there. She is charged with burglary.

Valentine appeared to think she could stay in the ranch permanently. She had the electricity switched over to her name and also moved in a washer and dryer and her small dog.

Copeland said she was even wearing some of Mitchell's clothes. "There's a lot of people saying, 'What?'" Copeland said.

Authorities found a gun and $23 000 (about R140 000) worth of Mitchell's jewellery in Valentine's car. Valentine is still being held in Douglas County Jail on a $25 000 bond, Copeland said. If convicted, she could face between one to 20 years in prison.

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