SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco police cleared 16 squatters from a six unit building on Saturday. They weren't just seeking temporary shelter, but looking to live there for the long haul. It took nearly a month for the building's owner to realize they were there.
"I haven't seen anything this big, only because buildings this size are not left vacant for this long," said Sgt. Paul Weggen.
One officer called this a well-organized squatting operation.
The three story building has stood empty for six months while the new owner figured out what type of renovations to do. But word quickly spread that an unattended, unguarded building was up for grabs.
"The idea was to fix the place up, put things in our name and see how it went because this is what we understood to be the legal means of going about it," said squatter Norm Cleggs.
In other words, the squatters had a plan to stay there long term.
ABC7 News got permission to go inside and found drug paraphernalia, bikes, power tools, and high end electronics. Police think most of it is stolen.
Every unit had power and running water. And it's all been for free.
The owner's agent did not want to talk on camera but thinks the squatters started moving in Sept. 1.
Still, some who came in and out of there knew something was fishy. That's why one woman only stayed for a few days.
"I'd much rather be outside than inside illegally," said Elizabeth Enos, a friend of one of the squatters.
Police did allow most of the people to take out some of their belongings. And there was only one arrest for an unrelated warrant.
The property owner is choosing not to file trespassing charges.