'Invisible thief' caught: Suspect stole cash, food by secretly living in Jiangsu flats' attic

Vagrant caught after making the mistake of locking the door from the inside when occupants were not around

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 June, 2014, 2:35pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 June, 2014, 3:13pm

A homeless man was able to live for three months in a compartment above two flats in Jiangsu province without being detected, helping himself to the residents’ food, cash and cigarettes.

He was arrested two weeks ago after a homeowner finally called police. The homeless man was arrested for stealing more than 2,000 yuan (HK$2,520) while illegally occupying the space.

The suspect, from Jiangxi province, said he had been penniless and wandered around neighbouring Kunshan city in Jiangsu seeking a means to survive, the Modern Express reports.

He found the hidden “attic” after climbing to a building’s rooftop. He moved into the space in March and was able to slip in and out of the two apartments through openings in the ceiling.

He would cook in their kitchens and take their valuables.

The homeowner who called police said he had noticed in those months how money and things would mysteriously disappear, but that there were no signs of forced entry as the door and windows were locked.

Finally, he called police after coming home in the early morning of May 29 and discovering that the door was locked from the inside – even if his family was not there.

Police officers at first were confused by the lack of signs that someone had trespassed, until one policeman noticed a hole in the kitchen ceiling.

When they climbed into the opening, they found the culprit.

A similar case happened seven years ago when an employee of a hot pot shop, having nowhere to stay after being fired, lived above the ceiling of the restaurant for three months.

He stole around 6,000 yuan from the shop over that period, mostly to pay for clothes and food.