TURLOCK -- A 59-year-old woman who has been living in Denair Park off and on for months is back again, and police this week arrested her when she refused to move away.
Theresa McCabe was booked at the Stanislaus County Jail on Wednesday morning.
"Ms. McCabe has been contacted numerous times over several months in order to gain her compliance and avoid having to arrest her for violating camping ordinances," police Lt. Nino Amirfar wrote in an e-mail.
"We have had numerous complaints from businesses, organizations, residences and parkgoers regarding her presence and her aggressive nature not to mention the unsanitary conditions she has made at the park. She has even been confrontational with park workers for mowing the lawn."
McCabe said she came back to the park because it's the only place she feels safe. Denair Park is frequented by homeless people during the day; city ordinances forbid camping and storage of personal belongings there.
"Every place else I went, they were driving people off," McCabe said. She said she found a place to stay with a friend of a friend but had to leave when he expected sexual favors in return.
She was booked and released from the jail and was back in the downtown Turlock park within a few hours. Police had confiscated her two cats; she got those back Thursday.
"They missed me," she said Friday. "One slept on my chest all last night."
Amirfar said police have tried to work with homeless organizations to help McCabe, but she has resisted. McCabe admits as much, saying she doesn't want to go to a homeless shelter because she can't take her cats with her.
Amirfar said police have repeatedly warned McCabe that camping at the park would result in her arrest.
"We do not usually take people to jail on municipal code violations as we prefer to issue citations," he said. "She has been issued numerous citations and still refuses to comply. It is due to these facts that she has left us with no other alternative but to arrest her and take her to jail."
McCabe said that for now, she'll stay at the park. She gets food from the nearby Enclave church and has a cell phone provided by a daughter who lives in another state. She said she hopes to leave the park one day for a permanent place to call her own.
"But it seems like it's just one thing after another."
Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2343.