A MAN has been arrested for fraud after a vicar returned home to find his house had been SOLD and someone else was living in it.
Reverend Mike Hall had been working in north Wales when confused neighbours called him to explain they had seen someone inside his £131,000 home in Luton.
He frantically drove back the following morning on August 21 to investigate his mystery guests -but discovered the locks had been changed and a builder was cracking on with renovations inside.
The property had been gutted of his worldly possessions and "completely stripped" of all the furnishings – including the carpet and the curtains.
Mike complained to Hertfordshire Police who today confirmed that a man has been arrested on suspicion of fraud by false representation, Hertfordshire Live reports.
Detective Inspector James Day said: "I can only imagine the anxiety and stress the victim has had to endure in this unusual and sophisticated case.
"My team of specialist officers is determined to get justice for him, as well as other victims of heartless fraudsters here in Bedfordshire.
"Our new team marks a step-change in how we respond to fraud cases in the county and we are determined to bring any offenders to justice."
Mike told the BBC: "I went to the front door, tried my key in the front door, it didn't work and a man opened the front door to me.
"I pushed him [the builder] to one side and got in the property. I really didn't know what he was doing there."
After Mike informed the workman he lived in the property, he called the police to explain his troublesome return to the terraced home.
The builder then left, but returned some time later with the new owner's father – who revealed he had purchased the house in July.
He told Mr Hall: "It is now my property. You are now trespassing. Get out."
Mr Hall explained he had attempted to access the Land Registry documentation online, where he saw the new owner's name was listed as of August 4 – meaning they legally own the house.
"At that point the police said, ‘Well, there’s nothing further we can do here. This is a civil matter; you need to leave the house and contact your solicitors'," he explained.
It is unclear how long the clergyman had been away from the property.
Despite owning the home for 30 years, Mr Hall was initially told by police it was a civil matter and that he had not been a victim of fraud.
"I was shocked – having seen the house in the state it was, I was in a bit of a state of shock anyway – but then to be told by the police they didn't believe a criminal offence had been committed here was just unbelievable," he said.
The solicitors involved in the bizarre property sale, who have not been named, said it was inappropriate to comment further amidst the ongoing police investigation.
"We will continue to co-operate with the police, and comply with our professional obligations," the firm said.
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