PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A retired Pasco County couple says, their home and privacy was invaded by burglars. But when deputies arrived, the problems went from bad to worse.
“I just feel like somebody’s kicked me in the stomach,” said Linda Kobus, 77, “I just don’t know what to do.”
It’s clear that Pasco County deputies wanted to solve this break-in. It happened in May at the couple’s home near Little Road and State Road 54 in New Port Richey.
Mrs. Kobus, and her 78-year-old husband Joseph, were away at the time.
“My fear? Well losing my house,” said Mrs. Kobus.
The Kobus family says deputies made a huge mess that left them with a more than $75,000 cleaning bill.
“I think it’s unfair, I think it was unnecessary.”
The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office dusted everything in the house for fingerprints. The entire home was covered in black dust, from the cabinets to the closets and drawers.
The Kobus family says this was excessive since nothing was even stolen in the crime.
“There wasn’t a murder here or anything…why did they do so many areas of fingerprinting?” said Mrs. Kobus.
According to deputies, they wanted to solve a string of break-ins in the area. They’re adamant they got permission to process the scene in this exact manner.
Linda and Joseph say that’s just not true.
“What would this fingerprint dust do to your body?” asked Investigative Reporter Mahsa Saeidi.
“I do not know exactly because I didn’t want to experiment,” said Mr. Kobus. “I am extremely vulnerable to airborne dust, mold, smoke or other toxins.”
Mr. Kobus says he would have never agreed to a dust storm in his house.
The cancer survivor has an opening in his throat.
“I had surgery that removed my voice box in October of 2015,” he said.
After crime scene investigators left, Mr. Kobus says the home had to be decontaminated by a professional cleaning service. The months-long process cost more than $75,000.
Insurance only covered half the cost.
The couple says, they haven’t been able to pay for the rest.
“I tried to go and remortgage our house,” said Mr. Kobus. “We were victimized by the Sheriff’s Department.”
The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office says they were never told about Mr. Kobus’ medical condition. If they had been given this information, deputies state “a different forensic technique would have been considered.”
8 On Your Side has learned there is some good news.
The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office says Mr. and Mrs. Kobus can file a claim through the sheriff’s insurance provider.
Meantime, the couple also says the feel the cleaning costs were astronomical.
8 On Your Side spoke with the owner of the professional cleaning company. At this time, he had no comment.
We are continuing to research the costs associated with this service and will keep you posted.
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