Police say an alleged burglar fell through a ceiling of a dollar store before trying to hide from officers inside a dryer at an adjacent laundromat in Southeast Albuquerque earlier this month.
Samuel Muller, 32, is charged with one count of criminal damage to property over $1,000 in the Sept. 13 incident.
He was booked into the Metropolitan Detention Center, but was released on Sept. 15.
Muller told police, according to court records, that he broke into the dollar store to find something to eat and hid from police to avoid going to jail.
“This is a time of great housing and food insecurity in our community,” Muller’s attorney, Griffin Hardy, told the Journal. “We spend so many law enforcement and judicial resources on arresting and incarcerating, but can we arrest and jail our way out of hunger and homelessness?”
According to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court:
Police responded to a burglary at the Family Dollar on Central, near Louisiana, after a manager reported a man breaking in through the back door. The manager told police he left the store after seeing a man breaking in on a security camera.
An officer heard someone carrying items to the back door and announced themselves before things went quiet. Police went into the store from the front and officers noticed movement from the ceiling.
A man, later identified as Muller, then fell through the ceiling and refused officers’ commands to surrender. Muller ran out of view and a police dog searched the dollar store without finding him.
Officers searched an adjacent laundromat and found Muller hiding inside a dryer and discovered he had come in through the ceiling. Muller said he went through the ceiling to go to the laundromat intending to hide until officers left.