HIPSTER SQUATTERS: Brownell Drive at Watego Beach.
HIPSTER SQUATTERS: Brownell Drive at Watego Beach. Christian Morrow

Squatters break in, trash Wategos holiday rentals

A BAND of illegal squatters have left two of Byron Bay's most select holiday rentals at Wategos Beach in a disgraceful state.

The opportunistic group have indulged Goldilocks-style in the exclusive multi-million dollar homes, living like rock stars for several days before leaving a massive clean-up bill as a "thank you" present to owners.

Police received reports of the first break-in last Monday, June 8, the second on Tuesday, June 16.

Tweed-Byron crime manager, Detective Inspector Brendan Cullen, said it was clear the unwanted guests helped themselves to some free accommodation.

"It would appear that the places have been lived-in. They weren't just in there for a couple of hours, they've obviously been staying there for a number of days," Det Insp Cullen said.

"There are televisions on, food, pizza boxes.

"It would appear that either homeless (people) or squatters have taken advantage that it's off-season and the places are vacant.

"There may be a group of people around town that have got their eye on these types of places."

Det Insp Cullen said there were no signs of forced entry so the properties may not have been left secure.

A forensic analysis has since been conducted by police in a bid to collect any fingerprint or DNA evidence.

An anonymous caller told The Northern Star the squatters had "trashed" the homes.

The witness described off-putting scenes of vomit in beds, European-brand cigarettes butted out in the carpets, burn marks and cannabis paraphernalia, alongside general disarray.

"They're treating it like a party house," the person said. "They're making themselves quite comfortable.

"It's one thing to break into a home and use it, it's another to wreck it. It's quite disturbing to see these beautiful homes trashed."

It's understood there could have been up to eight "guests" living in one property based on the furniture shifted around a dining table in order for the group to have a joint meal.

Det Insp Cullen said it was a timely reminder for neighbours of holiday rental properties to keep their eyes open for anything suspicious.

He warned these kinds of break-ins were more common in the cooler months.

"Byron attracts a lot of transient people who don't necessarily have a roof over their heads," Det Insp Cullen said. "It's a message to people who live next to holiday accommodation just to be mindful of people who shouldn't be there.

"There are people who will take advantage of the fact they are not being policed and that it's free accommodation.

"People don't really take notice of strangers in holiday places, they don't know whether they're paying tenants or otherwise. It's a difficult one.

"A lot falls back on the real estate agents to ensure that security is as it should be."

There are 25 properties listed on the accommodation website Stayz available at Wategos Beach, all offering cheaper rates in the quieter winter season.


THE COST OF A WEEK'S STAY AT WATEGOS

  • Wategos House: Sleeps 10 people in eight bedrooms. Weekly rates range from $21,000-27,000.
  • 39 Julian Place: Sleeps eight people in five bedrooms. From $6300-$10,850 a week.
  • Wattai on Wategos: Sleeps eight in eight bedrooms. Weekly stays from $7000-$20,000.
  • 29 Marine Parade: Sleeps six in three bedrooms. Weekly rates from $7000 in winter to $14,000 in peak season.

TO BUY:

  • 5 Marine Parade is currently up for grabs. It has five bedrooms, five bathrooms, and a six-car garage: Offers over $6.9 million

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