A woman in the St. Louis area who spent $20,000 and more than two years building a small house for herself had the house stolen from outside a warehouse where she had kept it during construction. But following a nationwide, social media-driven hunt, the house was recovered and returned to its rightful owner.
According to the Washington Post, Meghan Panu had been at work on a 12-foot-high small house for herself, as part of the growing “tiny house” movement. A student at Webster University, Panu had mostly built the house with her own hands. She had been keeping the house, which was still under construction, at a supply warehouse near St. Louis, but she got the call last week that the house had been taken from where she left it.
“He asked if I had moved the tiny house overnight and when I said no, he had the unfortunate news that they hadn’t, and it was likely taken,” Panu told a local news station.
After Panu put the word out on her social media accounts, reports poured in from around the country, from correspondents who claimed to have seen the house being towed on various highways, with reports that placed the home as far away as California.
However, Panu soon got some good news as the house was ultimately found in, of all places, House Springs, Missouri, just 30 miles away from where it was taken. It’s unknown who, exactly, was responsible for stealing it, or how they did it, but an anonymous tip led police to the house’s location. A towing company, as an “early Christmas present,” offered to deliver the house back to Panu free of charge.
The tiny house movement has roots that go far back in history, but it has especially gained popularity following the housing meltdown of 2008. Tiny houses are meant as an affordable, ecologically responsible and mobile housing option, and have been depicted on the reality TV show Tiny House Nation. The tiny houses are even sometimes rented out on Airbnb and other such sites. However, tiny houses have been criticized for their potential to drive down housing prices of more traditional homes.
“Tiny House” was also the title of a humorous Geico commercial from 2004, which parodied the outlandish reality TV premises of the time:
Panu, who operates an Instagram page called St. Louis Tiny Living, plans to complete her tiny house, and move into it this spring.