Accused burglar claims ‘Hobo Law’

A South Whidbey woman who was living at a Lone Lake vacation home without permission told people she was allowed to stay there under “Hobo Law,” court documents say.

The suspect, Dawn M. Prescott, 29, even changed the lock on the door, according to the police report.

Prosecutors charged Prescott in Island County Superior Court Jan. 24 with residential burglary. If convicted of the charge, she could face more than a year in prison.

The owner of the “art studio residence” reported to police Jan. 1 that someone had changed the deadbolt on the front door and trashed the inside of the house, the police report states.

About three hours later, deputies were called back to the house and found Prescott and another woman crying in the driveway from being pepper-sprayed. The owner said she had returned to the house and confronted the two women as they were leaving; she said she used pepper spray on them after Prescott became confrontational.

Prescott claimed she had rented the house from a woman through Airbnb.

A couple of other people, however, said Prescott claimed to have moved into the house, which she thought was abandoned, under the “Hobo Law.” She told one friend that it was allowed as long as she puts up “no trespassing” signs.

Squatters living in vacant properties have rights under state law but not if there’s evidence of forced entry.

The deputy wrote that it was obvious people had been living in the house. There was a mattress on the floor with trash and dirty dishes strewn about.

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