The family of a Peterborough house owner who is 101 years old has been battling to recover her home after it was occupied by a group of 14 migrants.
Resident Megan Wilkinson has not been able to return home, where she has lived for 65 years, after suffering a stroke while visiting her family in Germany.
To help pay for her expensive medical care, her family planned to let out her home in Granville Street.
But after redecorating the house, the family was left stunned to be told by the letting agents that a group of 14 people, thought to be East Europeans, had taken over the property.
The family was initially told by police the matter was a civil one and they faced a costly legal fight to recover the home.
But yesterday - three weeks after first being told of the invasion - police finally went into action and evicted the squatters.
Her daughter Ann said: “The agents had been carrying out a viewing on October 3 and arrived at the house to find all these people inside.
“I rang the police to inform them about trespassers. Nothing happened.
“I rang again on October 6, whereupon the police went to our property with our agent and gave these so-called tenants seven days’ notice to vacate because they were trespassing.
“There were about 14 people but only four said they were renting and 10 were visiting,
“Duvets were seen strewn over the floors of the bedrooms and there was evidence of smoking.”
She added: “Although we were given a crime reference number by the police they told our solicitor it was a squatter trespass but should be treated as a civil matter.
“We have no other option now but to obtain an eviction of trespassers order from court, which could cost £4,000.
She said that Mrs Wilkinson had been left partially paralysed and needed 24 hour care.
The rent from letting the house would be needed to pay towards the costs.
She added: “It is shameful how my mother’s property can just be taken over like this and the police cannot help us at all.
The family’s plight angered Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson who, speaking before the police action - said: “I don’t believe there was nothing that could be done about this by the police if they applied themselves properly to the issue.
“The lack of action is completely unsatisfactory.
“It is not a civil matter - it is a straightforward matter of squatting, which is a criminal offence.
“I will be more than disappointed if the police don’t take action to remove these people.
“These people have stolen this lady’s house and should be removed.
“She has a right not to have her house stolen from under her because she is ill and not in the house at the time.”
Mr Jackson added: “I will raise the matter with Peterborough City Council chief executive Gillian Beasley to ensure the local authority does not spend any money on this group of people.”
Finally, yesterday, at about 3.25pm, police released a statement that read: “Officers have attended the property and evicted the people.
“The occupants were taken to Bayard Place to register as homeless and their details have been passed to the Home Office.”
A police spokesman added: “Four men and two women were asked to leave the house, which they did.
“Initially the tenant and the estate agents had put in civil measures to try to remove the occupants from the property.
“However that was not successful and officers intervened.
“The occupants were requested to pack their things and vacate the property which they did and no force was needed.”
The police spokesman admitted that initially officers had felt that the issue was a civil matter.
“That decision was reviewed by a more senior officer and it was decided that these people were acting illegally.
“Officers will be looking further into this and also into the way the issue was handled.”