By Catherine Powell
|Image courtesy Pixabay|
They say guests are a lot like fish because they start to stink after three days. At least, that was Ben Franklin's take on unwanted houseguests. While company who overstay their welcome is an all too familiar nuisance, particularly to those of us who live in sunny Florida, there's one kind of houseguest who's even more annoying than others: Phroggers. Phrogging is similar to squatting where a tenant occupies someone else's property without their consent. Unlike squatters, who occupy vacant homes, phroggers are people who take up residence in homes that are currently occupied. If that doesn't sound creepy enough, the antics of phroggers can cost homeowners to lose sleep at night since these freeloaders can damage their property or disrupt their lives while they're in residence.
Phrogging, which was coined after the children's game of leapfrogging, is one weird way to avoid homelessness. Phroggers typically hop from one residence to another every few weeks to avoid being detected. The trick to phrogging is to gain entry to an occupied home and take up residence in an attic or crawlspace without the homeowners being wise to them. While surreptitiously ensconced in their illicit abode, phroggers will remain as quiet as a mouse while the current residents are home, only to come out when the home is empty. Then the phroggers are free to eat their host's food, or rifle their home for cash and other easily pawned valuables. Upon the host's return, they'll head back to their hidey hole to snooze, only to repeat this disturbing behavior once their hosts are fast asleep. That's right, some of these interlopers are bold enough to come out after dark like vampire bats, even while you and yours are at home. Some phroggers are even so bold that they've been known to hide in closets or under the resident's bed. (Don't believe me? Check out the video below.)
While stories of phroggers abound on YouTube, some people think they're made up until it happens to them. In fact, it was due to video portals and social networks that this creepy phenomenon went from an urban legend to reality in the first place. In 2006, a YouTube documentary called "Living with Strangers" was posted that purported to follow a pair of young women for five days as they allegedly took up residence in a stranger's home. Only later was it revealed that the two were actresses who were paid to play their parts to help drive viewership of the video. The video became so popular that it soon spawned the very menace it parodied. Now there are thousands of phrogging videos on YouTube from both perpetrators and victims alike. Bolstered by the antics portrayed online, some of these trespassers perpetrate the illicit act for fun or profit.
|Image courtesy Pxhere|
Nobody is immune from phrogging. Not only have houses been occupied, so have apartments and businesses. The way these interlopers gain entry can be as simple as climbing through a window or jimmying a door while the residents are away. Some will simply enter a business or home while the owners are otherwise occupied, only to slip silently into a closet or crawlspace until everyone is gone or goes to sleep. They they'll make their way up to the attic or down to the basement to fashion a nest for themselves somewhere out of sight. This is where a phrogger will spend the majority of their time whenever the home is occupied. While it isn't unusual for phroggers to come out to eat their host's food when the residents are away or asleep, it also isn't uncommon for phroggers to spy on their hosts or to root through their belongings. In fact, that's how many of them get caught.
One of the signs of phrogging are strange noises, missing or moved belongings, pets on high alert, or just the feeling that someone is watching you. If you should ever experience any of these things or find a window or door ajar that you know should be closed, the best thing to do is not to confront the phrogger. Get everyone out of the house and call the police before reporting a prowler. Better to let the cops do a search of your home rather than risk coming face to face with an intruder. While some phroggers work alone, others travel in packs. The last thing you want is to be assaulted by thugs who are illegally occupying your home or business.
One of the other problems that can be caused by phroggers is theft or property damage. Currently there are a number of suspicious house fires in California that police suspect are being caused by a known phrogger. Even if a phrogger doesn't intentionally set fire to your home, there's the possibility of an accidental fire or electrical short circuit being caused is a possibility. Some of these unwanted houseguests have even been known to trash a residence on their way to their next home. If you hear of a case of phrogging in your neighborhood, be on the lookout for telltale signs of trespass, since phroggers will usually move their act to the nearest property to which they can gain access.
|Image courtesy Pixabay|
The best ways to keep phroggers from targeting your home or business is to make sure all your windows and doors are securely locked, and to install such things as motion-sensor lights, burglar alarms, and video cameras that can detect intruders before they enter a dwelling. Another helpful hint is to watch some YouTube videos on phrogging so you can see what you're up against before these unwanted houseguests check into your home or business.
Catherine Powell is the owner of A Plus All Florida, Insurance in Orange Park, Florida. To find out more about saving money on all your insurance needs, check out her website at http://aplusallfloridainsuranceinc.com