Union City Cops Help Woman Restore Run-Down Home

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Officer Mike Yaeger has been responding to calls for 10 years. But a call to check out a possible burglary inside a Union City home was different. Cheryl Hurd reports. (Published Friday, Aug 1, 2014)

    Officer Mike Yaeger has been responding to calls for 10 years. But a call to check out a possible burglary inside a Union City home was different.

    "We just kind of checked the perimeter first, just to see if there was any forced entry," he said.

    Yaeger spotted a broken window on the side of the home and that's when he saw blood.

    "The natural assumption is that the burglar made it inside and cut himself and fled out the front door," he said.

    The veteran officer was determined to find out who the home belonged to because when he forced his way inside for a welfare check, Yaeger was stunned by the broken furnace, piles of clothes and animal feces on the ground.

    "You can see with the condition of the house -- there's no way somebody was living in here," Yaeger said.

    Neighbor Carol Rabello helped solved the mystery and described the resident as a private lady.

    "We don't see her much that she lives with her mom," Rabello said.

    Rabello was describing Eileen Benevedes, who has owned the Union City home for close to 40 years. But she hit a rough patch seven years ago.

    Benevedes said she was living with a roommate for about 40 years. But in 2007, her roommate had a stroke and passed away.

    The hardships did not stop there. Benevedes developed health issues of her own, which prompted her to have three open-heart surgeries. And now she also takes care of her 97-year-old mother who lives in Oakland.

    Yaeger asked if Benevedes planned on selling her home. She replied and said she planned to move back to her home.

    Yaeger and Sgt. Steve Mendez then started asking the community for help to restore the run-down home. The officers in return got an overwhelming response. Big-box stores and a local furniture store donated items to bring Benevedes' home back to its original luster.

    "There is no way that a total stranger says to you I'm going to make your wishes come true," Benevedes said. "I've been a decent person. I don't do anybody any harm. What did I do to deserve this?"

    Benevedes said she hasn't slept in a bed since 2011 because she's been sleeping on a couch at her mother's home. That will change as she now has a brand new bed to sleep in thanks to a pair of cops and their concern for the community they serve.