RIVERVIEW, Fla. (WFLA) – 8 On Your Side Investigates received a call for help about a monster mess next door. We found a destroyed mobile home, inoperable vehicles and piles of junk on the property near Boyette and McMullen roads in Riverview.
Roy Welsh owns a home just steps away from the junk-filled property.
“I am to the point of breaking because this has been going on for several months,” said Welsh.
The grandfather says he’s worried about the safety of his family.
“They’re dismantling cars or motor homes,” said Welsh, “They’re taking the debris out of these things and burning them.”
Welsh believes the junk next door is a potential fire hazard.
“We have Australian pines on this side, if they catch on fire, it’s going to burn the whole residence down, our shed, our house, everything.”
Welsh contacted the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and Code Enforcement about the various issues before calling 8 On Your Side Investigates.
“There’s people out there in the middle of the night, we don’t know what they’re doing.”
Just this year, Hillsborough deputies have been called to the problematic property five times for various reasons including alleged trespassers and illegal dumping.
8 On Your Side Investigates found two active code enforcement cases for an accumulation of debris and junk.
The 2017 case for overgrowth and accumulations has fines currently running at $368,500. The 2019 case cites uninhabitable dwelling and inoperable vehicles on site.
According to county records, the property owner is Matthew Street.
8 On Your Side Investigates left messages at various potential numbers for Mr. Street. We also stopped by the property and attempted to speak with several people on site.
“We just wanted to give you a chance to speak with us,” said investigative reporter Mahsa Saeidi.
“I don’t own the place, I just work here,” said a man who declined to identify himself.
“Is there anybody else on property right now?” asked Saeidi.
“No,” said the man.
But there was a woman on the property at the time. She also declined to identify herself.
“I’m going to go get the owner,” she said.
The woman, who took off on a bike, promised to bring back the owner.
Soon, she returned.
“The owners are coming,” she said.
8 On Your Side Investigates heard a speeding car. The man claimed he was the owner.
“Who sent you here?” asked the man.
“What’s your name?” asked our investigative reporter.
“Don’t worry about what my name is, who sent you here? I’m tired of people messing with me,” he said.
8 On Your Side has learned the man, behind the wheel, was not the listed owner of the problematic property.
According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, his name is Larry Rippy. We contacted the sheriff’s office about our encounter and deputies cited Mr. Rippy for reckless driving.
The next step is a code enforcement hearing.
8 On Your Side Investigates is attempting to get in touch with Mr. Street and determine who is legally allowed to be on his property.
Deputies are on alert about increasing tensions surrounding this issue.
8 On Your Side will continue to follow this story.