Couple finds signs of squatter during stay at vacation rental home

PORTLAND, Ore. -- If you're planning a trip to the Oregon Coast this summer, watch out for uninvited guests.

A local couple said a squatter may have been camping out in their Rockaway Beach rental house while they were staying there.

"Scared the daylights out of us," said Dale Scott, who lives in Salem. "We never thought that anybody would be there."

Scott, and his wife, Cheryl, said they rented a two-story house with an ocean view for five nights, for more than $1,000.

They walked through the house when they arrived, and noticed a closet under the stairs, with the door locked.

"We twisted it. 'Oh, this must be the cleaning supplies, because it's locked,'" said Cheryl Scott.

The third night in to their stay, Cheryl Scott said she woke up at about 3 a.m. and heard noises.

"I was like, 'Why was the water running downstairs?' It wasn't very long, like a toilet being flushed," said Cheryl Scott.

She said she then heard a few bumps and a 'swooshing' sound, like the front door opening.

But she said she and her husband dismissed it as sounds of the beach house settling. She said they had locked and dead-bolted the front door, and did not imagine anyone could be inside the house.

But the next morning, when the couple went downstairs, they found signs of a visitor.

They said both the front door and the door to the closet under the stairs were unlocked.

"When I turned that doorknob and it opened, I was like, 'Oh, no, somebody's been in here,'" said Cheryl Scott. "It was freaky."

"It was that sinking feeling," said Dale Scott. "That they were already there while were upstairs. They were there and they could have done anything."

The Scotts filed a police report and contacted the rental company.

The rental company, Vacasa, changed the locks and provided the Scotts with a new key.

The Scotts decided to complete their stay, but said they never felt comfortable.

"We couldn't sleep, we just couldn't relax the rest of the time we were there," said Dale Scott. "We couldn't get no peace at all."

After the KATU Problem Solvers contacted Vacasa, the company refunded the Scotts their rental money.

"With over 239k guests having enjoyed vacations in our rentals, this is an extremely rare, but unfortunate occurrence," wrote Scott Breon of Vacasa in an email. "Property crimes are not victimless, and these guests and our business are just 2 examples of those impacted when people choose to commit property crimes."

Police in various coastal towns report cases of people breaking into vacation rental homes and even, from time to time, taking up residence somewhere on the property.

"It's a perfect breeding ground for anybody that's homeless or whatever, running up and down 101 with the tourists," said Dale Scott.