South London residents were trapped in their home by invaders who changed the locks and dumped truckloads of rubbish outside their bedroom windows.
Intruders broke their way into the property in South Bermondsey on December 29 by cutting through a padlock on the front gate and replacing it with their own.
The three tenants living in the former factory building on Verney Road were left trapped on the site unable to escape.
They called the police seeking help, but officers said they couldn’t help.
The invaders began dumping truckloads of rubbish outside the residents’ bedroom windows, threatening to fill the entire car park surrounding the building with rubbish unless the owner paid a £6,000 ransom.
Officers finally ordered the intruders to leave on December 31 after the tenants pleaded for help from local MP, Harriet Harman, who raised the situation with Southwark Police.
A resident, who was too afraid to be identified, said: “At about 5:30pm on Wednesday I was in my living room and I heard the roar of engines and saw a flash of headlights come to the window.
“I opened the door to be confronted by a large group who said ‘We live here now. You don’t live here now.’
“These people were very aggressive towards us. One of them even said to me as I looked at him through the window ‘if you don’t look away I’ll smash your head in.’
“The next day it transpired they were here to dump rubbish and exhort the owner. All day yesterday, every half hour or so, a dump truck would turn up full of rubbish and tip it in the carpark.”
The three residents moved into the former paper factory in February 2020.
They are living there as property guardians, where people live in houses that would otherwise be empty to protect them from trespassers.
The tenants said living in the ex-factory was “paradise” prior to the arrival of the intruders.
But their dream home turned into a nightmare on December 29 as they found themselves locked behind an eight ft gate surrounding the factory by the trespassers.
The invaders even smashed a key box containing keys to the factory – giving them access to the residents’ house at any time.
One of the tenants said: “They could come into the bit we lived in. All through the day they wouldn’t let us leave. We were effectively hostage in our own home.
“They said that unless the owner gave them £6,000 they would continue to fill this car park with rubbish until it was so full of rubbish it would cost £50,000 for the owner to get rid of it.
“We called the police every half an hour but they wouldn’t come inside the property. They said we need to get a court order.”
In a state of despair, one of the residents contacted Labour MP for Peckham and Camberwell, Harriet Harman, on the evening on December 30 asking for help.
Ms Harman raised the situation with Southwark Police and officers issued the intruders with a Section 61 notice – ordering them off the site by 12:00pm on December 31.
The trespassers have since gone but the residents have been left with a huge pile of tyres, plastic and building rubble outside their house.
One of the tenants said: “They’ve gone but they’ve left a huge mound of stinking rubbish.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen with it. It’s about 10 skips of rubbish piled high.
“It was a terrible situation. It has been very stressful.
“The property has been a real paradise for us.
“It’s a factory but we’ve made it look lovely inside. We’re very proud of it.”
The Metropolitan Police has been contacted for comment.
Harriet Harman has been contacted.
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