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Officials: Excessive Hoarding Can Be Serious Problem

If you’re collecting items excessively and are unable to throw them away…you’re a hoarder.

As we just reported in the rat case out of Las Cruces…this can also include animals.

El Paso’s Adult Protection Agency recently started a “Hoarding Task Force” to avoid the sometimes… fatal results.

“We knew there was a need for it, but we knew that suddenly the need was more immediate when we saw a lady die. We said we don’t anymore people dying,” said Paul Zimmerman, Spokesman for Adult Protective Services.

A few months ago, 71-year-old Loralee Tucker died inside her home because of a fire.

First responders said they had trouble getting inside the Northeast El Paso house because of all the clutter.

“The investigators actually said afterwards that they believe the fire started because of a coiled-up extension cord that was buried under a bunch of boxes,” said Zimmerman.

In March A-P-S investigated five hoarding cases….but they suspect there’s a lot more.

“That’s just the tip of the iceberg because it is a hidden secret,” said Zimmerman.

Zimmerman said hoarding is a symptom of obsessive compulsive disorder. “You can look at a house from the outside and it can look perfectly normal, but on the inside there could be trash and clutter just totally built up.”

Such as the case with the hundreds of rats found inside the home in Las Cruces…outside, the home was kept clean in a nice neighborhood.

And a hoarder isn’t usually mentally incapacitated. “There was a professor in town who had three houses. He’d fill up one and move to the next one, then he’d fill up that one and move to the next one,” said Zimmerman.

According to a new study…up to 3 to 5 percent of people across the U.S. are hoarders.

A & E Television has a popular TV show based on the disorder.

“Severe form of hoarding can be very dangerous forms of self neglect,” said Zimmerman.

While A-P-S officials say they can only do so much when dealing with adults….they take hoarding cases very seriously.

If you suspect a hoarder in your neighborhood…call A-P-S and report it at 1-800-252-5400.

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