OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – Authorities in Osceola County are looking into how they can stop vacation rental homes from being used for large gatherings.
“We’re gonna work with our county government, the board of county commissioners, and our county manager,” Russ Gibson, Sheriff of Osceola County said. “And maybe we can look at maybe doing something with the county ordinance.”
The county sheriff said the idea is not to target the owners of those vacation or rental homes.
“Vacation homes is a big part of our tourism industry and we don’t want to hurt that at all but we can’t afford to sacrifice that for these house parties,” Sheriff Gibson said. “These parties are attracting a criminal element as well– By no means am I saying they’re being held by gang members.”
Over the weekend seven people were arrested and several firearms were recovered, including a stolen firearm.
“One person was arrested for a warrant that he had outstanding, it was a violation of probation on a homicide that he had been convicted of,” Gibson said. “The key is to try to find the homeowner if they’re there at the house, and if they’re not at the house then try to find the person who’s rented the house.”
Sheriff Gibson said those house parties are taking place in the west side of Osceola County with up to 300 people not abiding social distancing guidelines.
He said the party organizers are mostly from other central Florida counties looking to make money.
“They’re selling tickets, however, they do it, uh, you pay an entry fee and I’m not sure how all that works, but I know that’s how it works,” he said.
Images from July 12 obtained by News 6 show dozens of partygoers. Since March, the sheriff’s office has received more than 600 noise complaints.
“I hate to even use the word stupid, but I can’t think of any other word to describe this,” Gibson said. “And it’s also uncaring. These people are living in a moment and have no thought about what tomorrow could bring or what their actions today could cause to somebody that they love. We’re gonna send a clear message that you’re not gonna be able to do that here in Osceola County. This isn’t gonna be the party capital of the world.”
Sheriff Gibson said his teams will continue to be on the lookout and asked residents to call authorities if they see a house party taking place.
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