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'A recipe for disaster': Utahns found living in storage units

Published April 27, 2012 8:03 am

Crashers • People living in unsanitary conditions.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

South Salt Lake police discovered several people living in unsanitary conditions last month when they found the group had set up house inside several storage units.

And although their alleged set up inside the storage units at 3202 S. Davis Drive was apparently quite elaborate — complete with heaters, air conditioners, beds, recliners and electronics — the occupants didn't rig an indoor plumbing system.

Police said the occupants, who were living inside six units, were going to the bathroom in bottles, and were found living among that human waste, according to a search warrant made public Thursday in 3rd District Court.

"I realize people are up against hard economic times, but we will evict them," said South Salt Lake police spokesman Gary Keller. "It was just a recipe for disaster. Storage units weren't made to be habitable. They are not designed for that."

Police said they first became suspicious after they were asked to respond to a trespassing call there on March 19.

When they returned a day later along with city code enforcement officers and the city fire marshal, the property manager told them that she knew there were people living in other units, the search warrant states.

Officers said while investigating, they found several people illegally living there.

At least one occupant had knocked holes in the walls to allow for movement between units, the search warrant states. Keller said the living conditions posed health and safety risks. Officers found a woman had been locked inside a storage unit.

The occupants had set up a system in which one person would lock the others in their units so that they always appeared to be locked, Keller said.

Police also discovered a make-shift bedroom with food, clothing and other living accessories. Three other units also contained make-shift bedrooms with beds, clothing, food, televisions, microwaves, recliners, computer workstations, lamps and other accessories, the search warrant stated.

"They were being very creative, but it was still a hazard," Keller said.

jstecklein@sltrib.com Twitter @sltribjanelle