Swapped Address Numbers Leads to Neighbor's Home Mistakenly Demolished

PHOTO: Police in Pontiac, Mich., say a homeowners plan caused crews to take down the wrong house.
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When a wrecking ball swings through the wrong place, it usually has the makings of a tragic story. But for neighbors of a home mistakenly demolished in Michigan, it was cause for celebration.

And police are scratching their heads over the incident -- what may have been the result of a scheme to swap address numbers to intentionally raze the wrong home.

The Sheriff's Office in Pontiac, Mich., about 30 miles north of Detroit, said the street address numbers of a home that the state intended to demolish were nailed to a neighboring abandoned home. Contractors hired by the state intended to demolish 398 Edison St., but they first knocked down 404 Edison St., according to a police report.

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The police report indicates 398 Edison St. actually had the street number of 390 Edison St.

Oakland County undersheriff Mike McCabe said police are still investigating the situation and no charges have been filed. McCabe said the home intended to be demolished was eventually razed by contractors on Thursday.

The owner of the mistakenly demolished home, Mike Anderson, told police he didn't give permission to anyone to demolish his home. Anderson could not be reached for comment.

Anderson told ABC affiliate WXYZ that he's wondering if the city of Pontiac owes him a new house.

Max Garza, the owner of the home intended for demolition according to property records, did not respond to a request for comment from ABC News.

Neighbors, however, are elated by the mix-up, saying the mistakenly demolished home was not only an "eyesore" but was a frequent hangout for squatters.

"I wanted to shake everybody's hand," said Fred Sargent, a neighbor, explaining his jubilation when crews demolished the home. "At first, I thought they were doing the right thing. In my mind, they should have been doing that."

Sargent said he went to the home to inspect the demolition because contractors broke a gas line pipe. The Sargent family was without gas and hot water from Thursday until Monday.

Sargent, who walks his dog near the two homes daily, said he never noticed any street address numbers on either of the two homes before they were demolished.

Sargent, who has lived in the neighborhood for about 28 years and works in the hospitality industry, said no one seemed to have officially lived in the mistakenly razed home for months. The home was surrounded by bags of garbage, furniture and an overgrown lawn. In addition, the aluminum siding had been ripped off.

"Everybody on that block was glad that home was demolished," he said.

In contrast, the other home that the state intended to demolish seemed to be in better condition, despite having some boards on the windows, Sargent said, noting that home had a mowed lawn and a new roof.

"I know it was the wrong house they tore down, but they did the community and neighborhood a favor," he said.

His wife, Lorri, who works in retail, said she's concerned that the debris from the two demolished homes still remains in the lots.

"Whatever they destroyed is now just sitting there," she said.

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Lance Butler, another neighbor who has lived in the area for 50 years, said the community can be dangerous because of drugs and squatters.

Butler said he notices about one demolition a week in the neighborhood.

"If you took a ride through here, you'd see a number of houses that need to be demolished," he said.

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