Booze, cigarettes and cheese were on the shopping list of a man accused of accessing a Lake Tapps grocery store through the ceiling rafters for more than a month. He was arrested Wednesday after evading police and store employees for weeks, according to Auburn police.

In a post on its Facebook page, the Auburn Police Department said the man is accused of getting into the Haggen store through the rafters and helping himself to thousands of dollars worth of products, including an artisan block of Beecher’s cheese that cost $394.97 at $22.99 per pound.

“Property Crimes Detectives located some very expensive cheese that was missing from the store, as well as cigarettes,” police said in the post. “The cheese cannot be re-sold by the store, so it was photographed for the case, then donated to the food bank.”

Auburn police Cmdr. Mike Hirman said officers had been called to the store on Christmas Day and four times since then by employees who “saw his feet dangling from tiles above the store or heard him walking around up there.”

Police went up into the rafters at least three times and found evidence that someone had been there — including a drug kit with heroin and meth, gloves, flashlights, a small camera scope and rope — but were unable to capture him.

After police posted surveillance video of the man slinking through the store in January on Facebook, a person who knows the suspect called police.


Once they had the name of the suspect, detectives investigated the man and on Tuesday served a warrant on his home, which is 2.7 miles from the store, Hirman said. There, they found the suspect along with a lot of different kinds of expensive cheeses and loads of menthol Marlboros. Detectives believe the South Auburn man stole a large quantity of high-end alcohol as well, but probably sold that for drugs, Hirman said.

Hirman said the man is a roofer by trade and was probably was not living in the store’s rafters although he may have bunked down there a time or two.

He was booked into jail on investigation of second-degree burglary, theft, malicious mischief and drugs.