I had never heard the term, but I didn’t expect it to mean living secretly and uninvited in someone else’s house. How scary is that!
Phrogging — pronounced “frogging” — is the act of a person secretly living in another person’s home without the real resident being aware of it. The term is thought to have originated from the metaphorical idea of people or “frogs” leaping from home to home.
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Image Source: grunge.com/phrogging
One of the highest profile cases was reported to the public was when singer George Michael found a stalker had been living under his floorboards for four days in 2012.
Sometimes, the homeowners never notice, and if they do, the victims don’t like to talk about the experience. The term applies not only to homes and apartments, but other sorts of public facilities like recreation facilities. In one case, a Children’s Museum. In 2007, a group of artists were found living in a mall that had been there for years. (MarkMaynard.com)
Typically, phroggers are homeless, but most homeless people are not often phroggers. Unlike others homeless, phroggers thrive on staying hidden in rarely used parts of a house such as an attic, basement, crawl spaces, and storage rooms. They just need a place to stay.
Maybe it is the challenge of getting away with it that they enjoy. Presumably this occurs where there are bigger homes or houses with attics and basements. Homeowners with pool houses and other detached buildings are more likely to attract a trespasser.
Real phroggers — those who stay for a few nights, weeks, or months and then move on — are experts at erasing all traces when they take your food or use your bathroom. However, unwanted and uninvited mystery guests are not necessarily people you don’t know. A South Carolina woman with five children found an ex-boyfriend from 12 years before living in her attic. After the man was gone and she had changed her locks, the woman found that intruder had been able to see her bedroom through an air vent.
Occasionally, the person is there under unusual but understandable circumstances. Another South Carolina homeowner returned after vacation and found an unknown woman living in her new house. The encroacher had moved into the home after finding an advertisement on Facebook. She’d paid $1,150 to the fraudsters who had posed as the owners.
Occasionally, the person is stalking the resident of the home or apartment. Some even have jobs but can’t save enough cash to get their own place, although that is not common.
If you ran into a phrogger on the sidewalk near your house, would you be suspicious? Maybe, maybe not.
Phroggers are typically slender, pallid, and often small in stature. Reports indicate that most phroggers are quiet and gentle individuals who avoid conflict. They keep an almost “invisible presence,” rarely taking goods or harming property while staying in someone else’s house. Because they cannot afford to buy new clothes, phroggers may be seen wearing filthy garments and “out-of-style” attire.
Image credit: Guilford County Jail Image Credit: WRC-TV - Image Source:
Image Source: insideedition.com/north-carolina listverse.com/10-people-who-secretly-lived
HAVE YOU BEEN PHROGGED?
For the most part, the real phrogger does everything to keep from being seen or suspected. They tend to be careful.
This is a good example. In 2008 a man in Japan discovered he had been sharing his home with a 58 year-old woman who had been sleeping on a shelf above the man’s closet. The police found no trace of her presence until they discovered the closet. She had been living there a year before she was caught.
Less careful squatters leave clues which eventually made the residents suspicious. The sound of footsteps is one of the most common clues in houses that have attics or stairs. Little skittering noises, like an animal in the crawl space. Unlocked doors and windows are another indicator. Some phroggers are caught when the interloper locks a door from the inside. Reports include things such as objects being moved, dirty dishes in the sink, footprints crushed into the carpet, disappearing food, more trash than there should be in the trashcans, etc. plus the obvious clue when money or items of value are missing.
Velma Kellen – victim; Image credit: KOMO-TV/ABC News
Image Source: listverse.com/10-people-who-secretly-lived
CODE OF CONDUCT
Supposedly real phroggers have a code of conduct.
● Don’t get caught
● You must clean up after yourself
● Take only what you need. (Water, food, and toiletries are permitted; however, anything else is not permitted; and
● Leave the house in the same state in which you found it. (In other words, don’t vandalize.)
From what I read, most of them haven’t heard of the code. Do they know each others?
WHY SO FEW POLICE REPORTS?
If you discover a phrogger, the majority of professionals advise avoiding confrontation and urging the individual to leave your home right away. Most intruders are peaceful and don’t want to be caught by the authorities. And apparently many of them do avoid apprehension.
If the phrogger complies with the request and leaves, the chances of him or her being caught is slim. On the other hand, staying in the house with the intruder sounds risky. I guess that depends on whether or not you are a Navy Seal or a muscular, six-foot-seven. Most of us aren't. Leaving the intruder in the house, going outside, and calling the police from your front yard also sounds questionable. A lot of damage could be done in the few minutes it takes for the authorities to get there.
Not a single law enforcement article about this crime came up on the internet. Even Wikipedia only give a definition. Therefore, I presume that the law enforcement terminology refers to this crime by a different name. Each community, city, country, and state have their own laws and sometimes different terminology. The closest crime is trespassing, the act of knowingly entering another person’s property without that person’s permission.
Squatting is the illegal occupation of an empty building. Illegal Breaking and Entering is tied to the intention of committing a crime, most often burglary. If you report it, and the police catch the person, no doubt the local constabulary can find a law that has been broken.
PROTECTING YOUR PROPERTY
Protecting your property from phrogging is about the same as any other crime. There are resources available such as the following:
● Security cameras, particularly when they are visible
● Motion sensors and alarms
● Lock your doors and windows
● Change locks as appropriate
● Even in a monitored building, change you locks when moving in
● Check your property regularly, particularly out buildings, attics and basements
● If you see someone suspicious lurking around, call the police
● If you suspect someone is entering your house or a room in your house, as you leave, place a tennis ball just inside the door, reach around with your hand, and close the door. If someone goes in, the ball will be unnoticed. As they push it inside the room, the person or persons will not feel it. Intruders have entered your home if they are not just inside the door.
NEW TV SERIES
The entire issue of phrogging has popped into public view recently with the KTLA release a new 10-part TV series entitled “Phrogging:Hider in My House”. The true crime program features episodes of real cases of phrogging.
Director Jessica Everleth said the cases are not hard to find, and that that more victims believed that their house was haunted by a ghost than believed an intruder could possibly living there. Watch on Lifetime TV.