It appears one enterprising homeless man used the coronavirus lockdown to his advantage.
Somehow 39-year old Daniel Albert Neja got inside Al Lang Stadium in downtown St. Petersburg, which is home to the Tampa Bay Rowdies soccer team and has been empty for quite some time due to COVID-19, WFLA-TV reported.
Image source: WFLA-TV video screenshot
But he didn’t stop with just gaining entry.
Apparently Neja entered a luxury suite as well — and then proceeded to live there for nearly two weeks, the station said.
“He went into the merchandise store, he went into the food area,” Yolanda Fernandez of the St. Petersburg Police Department told WFLA. “So he was wearing the merchandise and just helping himself to the food.”
Neja stole $1,043 in team merchandise and downed $250 worth of drinks, the New York Post said, citing an arrest report.
How did he pull it off?
Fernandez told the station that someone having the run of the stadium suite for “maybe one or two nights” isn’t such a shock, but that it was “kind of surprising” that Neja was “able to stay there for that long and have nobody notice it.”
So, how did he do it?
While the stadium itself is closed to fans there are workers on site every day, WFLA reported — and blending in with workers may have been Neja’s ticket inside.
There were no signs of forced entry, the station said.
The jig is up
Police told WFLA that it was, in fact, stadium workers who discovered remnants of Neja’s newfound life of luxury.
“The cleaning crew went into one of these suites that no one had gone into for a long time because of COVID-19 and noticed there were blankets, there was shaving cream a razor,” Fernandez told the station. “Clearly it appeared that somebody had been living there.”
Police arrested Neja shortly before 10 p.m. Sunday, WFLA said, adding that he’s facing burglary and resisting arrest without violence charges. Deputies are holding him in jail on a $5,150 bond, the station added.
Not the first time
In addition, records show he pleaded guilty to breaking into Lutz Elementary School in Hillsborough County earlier this summer — and the arrest report indicates he told arresting deputies he was just in the school looking for food.