PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (WWSB) - Deputies say a Florida woman spent several hours inside the ceiling of a store to try to avoid being arrested on shoplifting charges.
Around 7:30pm Thursday, the manager of a Big Lots store in Port Charlotte called the sheriff's office when she suspected a woman was shoplifting. The manager told deputies that a woman had gone to the restroom with a shopping cart full of items and when the manager went to check on her, she found garbage cans blocking the door.
The manager warned the woman deputies were on their way and entered the restroom, only to find the woman wasn’t there and several tiles had been removed from the ceiling.
Deputies arrived and say they started removing ceiling tiles all over the store, spotting the woman several times, but say she ignored commands to give up and come down.
The store was evacuated in case the woman fell through the ceiling and the fire department was called to put up ladders and use thermal imaging to try to locate the woman. While searching, deputies say they found the woman's purse and inside were three syringes and a spoon that tested positive for morphine.
Around five hours after the search began, the sheriff's office called it off, leaving a deputy in the store. Shortly after 1:30am, the deputy spotted the woman climbing down a stack of shelves and took her into custody when she reached the ground.
Kristina Perkins, 37, is charged with Felony Criminal Mischief, Petit Theft (3rd Offense, Felony), Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Resisting a Merchant, and Resisting Law Enforcement without Violence.
The sheriff’s office says she caused significant damage to the store’s ceiling, duct work and dry wall. Big Lots will be closed until repairs are completed.