Suspected squatter arrested in Grass Valley |

Suspected squatter arrested in Grass Valley

Grass Valley Police officers arrested a man suspected of breaking into, and squatting in, a vacant office building late Monday night.

Officers had been on extra patrol and surveillance of the abandoned building in the 100 block of Catherine Lane since late last week, said Lt. Steve Johnson.

“The owner noticed that someone had broken in through a window and was staying there,” Johnson said. “There was a makeshift living space, as well as a lot of vandalism. Large holes had been punched in the walls in order to gain access to all the offices.”

An officer watching the building just before midnight Monday saw a man emerge from the back.

“When he saw the officer, he took off running,” Johnson said.

After a short foot pursuit, the suspect gave up and was detained. A search reportedly uncovered a methamphetamine pipe and marijuana cigarette concealed in his clothing.

During a check of the building, officers located a bed made out of dairy crates with a mattress on top, Johnson said. They also reportedly found spoiled food, clothing and paperwork belonging to the suspect, identified as Justin Matthew Pelt, 32.

“The mattress had been stolen a week earlier from a fifth wheel in a parking lot on East Main Street,” Johnson said. “The crates had been stolen from a nearby restaurant on Dorsey Drive.”

Pelt was arrested and booked into county jail on charges of trespassing, possessing drug paraphernalia, unlawfully lodging on private property, second-degree burglary, possession of stolen property, and misuse of stolen dairy containers. He was being held in lieu of $16,000 bail.

Pelt was described by Johnson as a transient, and had been arrested in mid-September for trespassing.

He was scheduled to be arraigned on that case in Nevada County Superior Court Monday morning, but failed to appear and a $1,500 warrant was to be issued.

To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email or call 530-477-4229.

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