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GARY | A Gary man admitted to police he's been living in a Glen Park home without utilities since his girlfriend's father died and she moved out, but officers could not make him leave, officials said.

The incident about 2:30 p.m. Friday provides another glimpse of the challenges Gary officials face in dealing with thousands of abandoned properties.

Police were dispatched to the home in the 4900 block of Pennsylvania Street for a report of a man possibly squatting there, according to a report.

The complainant told police she doesn't own the property but thinks the man should not be living there.

Police told the woman that unless the property owner reports the man, officers cannot charge him with trespassing.

Officers then knocked on the home's front door, and the man answered, the police report said.

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The man said he's been living at the home for several years. After his girlfriend's father died and she moved out, he stayed there, the report said.

The man had keys to the property, but could not produce documentation proving residency and admitted the power and water were shut off, police said.

Police told the man they would be contacting either Gary or Lake County officials to determine if the property is livable and possibly condemn it. If the property is condemned, the man would be forced to leave, police said.

He was advised to try to make arrangements to live elsewhere, police said.

A land parcel survey done in conjunction with the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy estimated Gary has more than 12,000 blighted structures.

The city received $6.6 million last year through the Hardest Hit Fund Blight Elimination Program. That money initially was expected to fund the demolition of at least 379 blighted structures, but city officials recently said as many as 800 to 900 buildings can now be removed.

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Lake County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Sarah covers crime, federal courts and breaking news for The Times. She joined the paper in 2004 after graduating from Purdue University Calumet.