TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- BNSF said it was their officers who visited a Topeka homeless camp in North Topeka.
A spokesperson told 13 NEWS two BNSF officers noticed tents on what is believed to be a small piece of their property near the tracks, east of the Kansas Ave. bridge.
The officers warned campers if it is railroad property, they will give campers 72-hours to leave.
Patrick Houghton has lived in a camp east of the railroad tracks in North Topeka for nearly four years. He said earlier this week, railroad police approached the camps asking people to leave.
"All I heard was a vehicle, doors open and shut and they let dogs loose,” Houghton said. “They went from camp to camp telling all the homeless that they had to vacate. That they were on their property and nobody was given any warning about this, there is nothing posted anywhere.”
Houghton said railroad police told him and others the railroad owns the land all the way to the river.
Topeka Rescue Mission staff say up to 100 people live in the tent city. BNSF says it has no immediate plans to move them, but if they determine it is on their property, they'll work with local agencies to assist the people with services in relocating.
Street Reach Director Mark DeGroff said he noticed some of the campers leaving this week.
"I've seen people moving and I've noticed people talking about moving,” DeGroff said. “I think any change at all for anybody is a difficult thing and I think people that are in survival mode struggle more with change than we do.”
Randy Roberson also has lived in the tent city for four years. He said he has never seen signs or markings showing what is railroad versus city property.
"There’s a lot of help here, but the railroad, they just come in and bully you,” Roberson said. “I'm on city property, they say it's railroad property. Just get a proper survey done. They can't just come in and say, ‘Hey! This is ours move!’ if it's not."
BNSF says trespassing on railroad property is dangerous an illegal...
Earlier Thursday, both BNSF and Union Pacific said they were not familiar with the situation, but would look into it further. Each told 13 NEWS to contact the other about the issue. Shawnee Co. records showed Union Pacific owned property along the tracks.
Topeka Police Chief Bill Cochran told 13 NEWS on Wednesday that the railroad would have to mark its property, and could then lodge a complaint for trespassing.