North Port police shut down problematic drug house

Police responded to drug crimes there 51 times this year alone

NORTH PORT, Fla. (WFLA) — Imagine thinking your next door neighbor is dealing drugs, and police agree. They respond to the home 51 times in just a few months.

But it turns out shutting the whole thing down isn’t so easy, so 8 On Your Side went to find out why.

The house with the red door on San Mateo Drive seems to be nothing out of the ordinary, but neighbor Jennifer Hauser will tell you otherwise.

“It’s been a nightmare,” she said.

Police call it a drug house and over the past two years, this neighborhood has seen strange activity around the clock.

“People coming through the woods with flashlights…There have been people who have woken up with people in their lanai passed out, people hiding in their yard, people walking through their yard, people dumping trash,” Hauser said.

The mother of two has been constantly worried for her kids.

“I don’t know who these people are and I don’t know what they’re capable of and I don’t know what they’re here for. I keep my kids inside and it really takes away from my quality of life,” said Hauser.

Police are well aware. They responded to complaints here 51 times this year alone. To make their presence known, officers recently threw a community barbecue literally across the street from the home.

“People just continue to get arrested, they continue to get in trouble, but apparently they are just so addicted to what they’re doing that it doesn’t matter to them and it’s unfortunate,” North Port Police spokesman Josh Taylor said.

But officers say the drug use continued. So on Friday, they arrested the home’s owner, Tandra Knoepke.

Tandra Knoepke

But what took police so long?

“We’ve been trying to use every ounce of resources we have in order to shut down what’s going on there,” said Taylor.

North Port police say it took time to do the investigative work and obtain the proper warrants.

“Residents sometimes want that immediate, we’re going to pull right up and do things. But we’re gonna make sure that the right people are held accountable, so sometimes it takes a little while. People think we’re not watching, we really are,” Taylor said.

Nevertheless, neighbors are relieved.

“It doesn’t just happen overnight and knowing that we’re finally in the home stretch and there’s a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel is wonderful because this really is a wonderful neighborhood,” said Hauser.

The home is now in foreclosure and Knoepke faces numerous charges including drug possession.

Police are using this story to remind others, if there’s a nuisance home in your neighborhood, give them a call and they will work to fix the problem for as long as it takes.

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