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Bizarre vacant house infested with bugs concerns neighbors

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Nobody likes seeing vacant homes in their neighborhood, but there’s an added nuisance for people living by the abandoned house at 1829 Obrien Street, thousands of roaches and beetles.

Just at a glance the home looks to be one of the worst vacant houses in South Bend. Siding has been torn off, wires dangle from the walls and bizarre drawings in fake blood cover the front windows. The person who alerted ABC 57 to the condition of the home asked not to be identified and will be referred to as “Jane” for the purposes of this story.

"Basically when they left they had a party before they left and this is what's left of the house,” described Jane. “It’s from a Halloween party, that’s what's on the windows the doors."

Neighbors said the home has been abandoned for three years. Within months of the previous owner leaving scrappers looted the house and then the basement flooded, it’s now filled with mold.

"It's not something that I want somebody to know I live next door to," Jane explained. "Brings problems to the neighborhood, you have kids coming in here, you have people coming in here."

All the other problems are definitely troubling, but Jane’s biggest concern is the thousands of roaches and beetles that come out at night.

"It's disgusting, you have them all over the front windows, the sides,” Jane described. “It's nasty coming out here at night."

Jane said she’d made numerous calls to South Bend Code Enforcement about the problem.  When ABC 57 contacted the department they said pest control can be an issue at vacant homes.  Workers will make regular rounds cutting long grass at houses to try and reduce habitat for mice and other rodents. 

As far as bugs go, a code enforement official said they do their best to try and keep houses sealed and clean to discourage bugs from finding places to live inside the homes. But, according to the official, code enforcement has “too much on their plate” and not enough in the budget to conduct exterminations at vacant houses.

Jane and others in the neighborhood said the problem could be fixed if the house was quickly demolished. Over the past three years, she said neighbors have paid hundreds of dollars every few months for exterminators to spray their lawns to avoid having their homes infested.  She said she’d like to see the home come down even if that would mean the pests inside would scatter through the neighborhood.

"Then it would be something we could take care of because they're not going to constantly be here,” Jane explained. “It'll be a one-time big problem."

Because of ABC 57’s call, a code enforcement inspector will be sent to the house on Friday to see what can be done. An official said the house is on the list to be demolished, but won’t come down for at least 45 days.

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