Athens family wants woman who spent the night in their backyard arrested

Home surveillance video shows a female trespasser spent nearly 12 hours in Danielle Benson's backyard over Labor Day weekend. The Bensons were out of town for the holiday.

The Bensons were out of town for the holiday. According to the timestamp on the security footage, the woman walked onto the family's property around 8:45 Sunday night and when she realized no one was home, she made herself at home.  

"She defecated on our patio," said Benson.  "She swam in our pool.  She was in the hot tub.  She went through a storage closet that we have out here."

Surveillance video also shows the woman try to open multiple doors and windows in an attempt to get inside the house.   

Benson said she and her husband woke up Monday morning to find a long list of notifications from their security cameras and that was when they called Athens-Clarke County Police.  Officers arrived at the scene and escorted the woman off the property, but did not arrest her.  

"She entered my back [yard], looked up for my security cameras and waved at them.  She is bold. She is brazen. She knows that nothing will happen to her for continuing to commit crimes.  That is unacceptable," Benson said.

The police department issued a statement to FOX 5 about the incident and said they have since decided to charge the woman:

"The ACCPD responded to a complaint of a homeless person trespassing onto private property. The homeowner was not present at the time of police arrival. The investigating officer did not have complete information on what may have occurred at the property other than simple trespassing. Generally speaking, when a person has only committed the offense of simple trespassing, the subject is warned to not re-enter the property and if subsequent violations occur, the person is subject to citation and/or arrest.  In this case, absent further criminal information, the officer warned the female of criminal trespass and she was escorted from the property.

"The resident was able to provide the department with additional information regarding property damage that occurred when the female was on the property. With this new information, ACCPD officers have sought a criminal arrest warrant against the female. In addition, investigators have determined she trespassed onto additional properties in the area and additional charges are forthcoming."

According to county court records, the woman involved has several open cases against her including loitering, criminal trespass, and simple battery.  

Benson said she is concerned that criminal justice reforms enacted by the Athens-Clarke County mayor and city commission last summer have given criminals a free pass.

"These programs are not working.  Our mayor and commission have directed our police not to arrest non-violent criminals," said Benson.  "It's unacceptable and it's going to get worse in the city."  

As of late Thursday, the woman had not been booked into the Clarke County Jail.