'Squatters' gatecrash private swimming pools during heatwave – The Telegraph

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‘Police often arrive too late’

Piscines Détente, a swimming pool dealer in Aubière, near Clermont-Ferrand, said their showcase pool received regular illegal after-office visits.

“It starts up again every year when it’s hot,” one salesman told Le Figaro.

“Squatters come in the evening when we’re not there anymore. The neighbours warn the police, but they often arrive too late. Sometimes they leave loads of rubbish. What can we do? It’s a presentation pool for customers. 

“We can’t leave it empty or dirty. And if we put a roller cover on, it risks getting damaged. We’re not going to keep watch all night with a gun. So we’re going to install cameras and alarms.”

The phenomenon has even turned into a “national sport”, according to local paper La Dépêche du Midi, which said the uptick in intrusions was linked to the number of properties left vacant during the holiday period.

Toulouse one of the worst-hit areas

Among the worst-hit areas is around Toulouse, in south-western France. Its municipal alert platform, Allô Toulouse, has been inundated with complaints in recent weeks.

“Over the past three months, Allô Toulouse has registered 200 complaints regarding this type of break-in,” Toulouse town hall told local media.

“When the intrusion takes place in a municipal pool, the police are called to intervene as fast as possible,” it said. A group of illicit bathers occupied the public pool of Saint-Lys last weekend after hours, but had cleared out by the time the police turned up following complaints by neighbours.

“But in shared private housing, safety is above all the responsibility of owners and property management companies who must create effective conditions, notably by controlling access to communal areas.”

Police reportedly do not always respond to pool squatting if there is no sign of any clear offences.

However, owners are invited to contact authorities if the intrusion is coupled with vandalism, violence, loud noise or drug-taking or when squatters “prevent access and free movement of tenants” or “the proper functioning of security and safety installations”.

The website guide-piscine.fr puts the number of daily calls to police per day regarding such pool squatting at “10 to 15” nationwide, but “above all in the south of France”.


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