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Woman Reunited With Her Tiny Home After Thieves Wheeled It Away

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Some Americans love their McMansions (ph) - 4,000, 5,000, 10,000 square feet. Others love their tiny houses. We're talking less than 400 square feet.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The tiny house movement took off after the 2008 housing crash. Fans say, without room to keep much stuff, living tiny cuts down on materialism. And it's a way to be environmentally friendly since a literal smaller footprint means using less energy to heat and cool and using or reusing building materials.

KELLY: All of this appealed to Meghan Panu of St. Louis.

MEGHAN PANU: I went with all reclaimed windows that I got in St. Louis, and they're all a variety of shapes and colors.

KELLY: She built her own tiny house.

PANU: Yeah, I had all kinds of cuts and bruises

KELLY: Just 12 feet by 20 - so 240 square feet.

SHAPIRO: And then the tiny house movement took on a different meaning for Panu when her tiny house disappeared.

PANU: Immediately the panic sets in. It felt like the rug had been pulled out from underneath me.

SHAPIRO: Or the entire house in this case - Panu's hand-built home was stolen.

KELLY: It had been sitting on a trailer in the parking lot of a home remodeling store. Thieves drove off with it. Now, Jefferson County Sheriff Dave Marshak says the police are used to getting lots of unusual reports.

DAVE MARSHAK: The reality is that we're pretty good at prioritizing investigations. But I don't know that anybody has ever had to prioritize the theft of a home till now.

SHAPIRO: As local police grappled with their first ever theft of a home, Panu tried to help them by posting on social media.

PANU: That really got people reposting and sharing with their families, sharing with their friends and just trying to sort of get the word out and to say, hey, this thing is missing. We need to sort of, like, collectively find it together.

KELLY: This seems to have worked. After an anonymous tip, police found Panu's tiny house. It was in a wooded area about 30 miles from the parking lot where it was stolen.

SHAPIRO: Sheriff Marshak says the culprits remain at large.

MARSHAK: With the talent of our investigators, I believe that the rest of this story is yet to be told.

KELLY: Meanwhile, Panu is taking precautions to secure her tiny home. She is installing better - maybe even not so tiny - locks. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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