Saturday, June 28, 2008

It's Not Just You

I remember when I was living with five other guys in college. While it was full of fun noises and we could be as messy as we wanted to be, there is a point where, I believe, every college man asks himself the same question: "Are my roommates stealing my food?"

You know the scenario -- you come home one day, excited to try the new Chef-Boyardee ravioli you've been saving for a special occasion (you passed your Physical Science mid-term with a 68% - Boo yeah!!!) and when you get home you can't find it anywhere in the one small cupboard section that you were allotted when you moved in (six guys take up a lot of cupboard space). You can't remember eating it, but the can is gone and now all you have left is a bag of old potato chips and a moldy onion.

Now, your thoughts may immediately assume the worst and you begin to suspect your roommate who doesn't ever seem to go grocery shopping, or the freeloader who doesn't even live in your apartment, but manages to sleep on the couch every night and mooches off your Ramen sometimes, but what if you didn't have any roommates?

Such was the case with a man in Japan who lived all by himself in a tiny one-story house in Fukuoka. The 57-year-old lived a quiet and normal life until, one day, he noticed that some of his food was missing from his cupboard. Now, he didn't have any roommates at the time, but he more likely than not went to college at some point in his life and, therefore, figured that it was stolen.

He set up a video camera so he could get the culprit red-handed. One of the cameras captured someone inside his home one Thursday after he had left and transmitted the images to his mobile phone. He called police, fearing a burglary. When the police officers arrived, however, they found that all the doors were locked and all the windows were closed. Now, I know what you're thinking, because I thought the same thing: Hungry ghosts!!!

The police, the unbelievers they are, searched for a more logical explanation. And they found one. . .hiding in the closet. Police spokesman Hiroki Itakura said, "We searched the house ... checking everywhere someone could possibly hide. . .When we slid open the shelf closet, there [Tatsuko Horikawa] was, nervously curled up on her side." The 58-year-old homeless woman admitted that she had snuck into the man's house OVER A YEAR AGO when the man had left his apartment unlocked and she had lived in his closet during all that time!

This was no luxurious walk-in closet, either. Horikawa was living in a shelf in the closet that was only 50 cm high! She had moved a mattress into the small closet space and apparently even took showers while the homeowner was away. Police spokesperson Itakura even called the woman "neat and clean" which is the differentiating factor between Horikawa and the majority of college roommates.

So the moral of the story is: if you want to steal your roommates' food, all you have to do is clean up your mess after you eat. It'll take them a year to figure out their food is missing and, by then, you'll have moved on to mooch off of another apartment.

And for those of you living on your own, if you can't find that block of cheese that you swore you bought the other day. . .check your closet, you might have a small, homeless Japanese woman living in there.


The Shark said...

Dude, that's just nuts. It sounds like the homeless lady was probably cleaner than the home owner -- because if he bothered to go through his house now and then to do some tidying, he'd certainly have noticed the woman occupying a shelf of his closet!!

Back in Monticello we had a similar experience. The girls living in the red brick apartments noticed that some of their food would go missing, but in small enough amounts that they didn't really think anything of it. Then, one day, an entire bag of frozen chicken parts went missing from a freezer, and the girl who'd bought it thought someone had pulled a prank on her. She needed that chicken to feed her dinner group the evening she noticed it missing. However, nobody fessed up to taking it, and she was very frustrated.

Not long after this, a girl in another apartment of that building was missing a blanket, and was baffled as to where it went. A couple days later it showed up on the other side of the block, draped over a railing of another house in the ward. A friend of hers noticed it and brought it back to her.

The next day, an occupant of the missing-blanket apartment walked downstairs in midday, when she and most of her roommates were usually in class, and was startled to find a small Asian lady going through their cupboards and taking food. As soon as the lady noticed the girl coming in, she started going off on her about "her" blanket being stolen and started demanding to know where it was. Luckily the lady was just a talker and wasn't physically threatening. I think she left the food she was taking and just sort of walked away.

So, yeah, it turns out that this lady would wait until the middle of the day when most people were in class, and she'd just walk into girls' apartments and take food from them as if she was grocery shopping! I was baffled that so many girls apparently left their apartments unlocked all the time. We used the opportunity to encourage better security among our ward members.

Bethany said...


This is Joel's wife. I totally know that lady! I have 2 stories about her.

Part 1: A few years ago I was the manager of the Alpine Court apartments 2 blocks south of Monticello. Some of the girls in the complex started complaining of a bad smell in the small laundry room. Then they realized someone had been peeing in one of the washing machines!

Everyone kept a look out and I found out that some of the girls had seen an Asian woman in the little lounge hooked to the laundry room watching tv. She never talked to anyone and would usually leave when someone went into the laundry room. I did some searching and found a bunch of grocery bags under an end table (the couch and love seat made a right angle with the table in the middle of the two, so you couldn't see under the table unless you moved the couches). They had canned food, some tupperware, a few clothes, and textbooks in them. She also hid things in the utility closet. I can't remember anything besides a blender (maybe from Monticello).

After that we were on the lookout for the woman. One night I got a call from a tenant telling me she saw her go downstairs (where the lounge was), so I called the police and staked out at my apartment window to make sure she didn't leave.

The policeman got there, I filled him in on what we knew, and we headed downstairs. It was really weird. I kind of hid behind the corner while the woman and policeman argued back and forth for about 15 minutes. She seemed very scared. She said her apartment didn't have tv and she just went there to watch tv. He asked her about the urine in the machine and she said it wasn't her. He asked to see her ID. At first she said she didn't have it, but when he threatened to take her in for not having it she produced one. It said she was born in 1984. That weirded me out more because that's how old I am.

The policeman told her she better get her stuff and leave. She continued to claim she didn't live there and the stuff under the table wasn't hers. He said if it wasn't then she needed to just go and if she ever came back she'd go to jail for trespassing. She gave a fleeting look at her things, but held to her story and left without it.

The policeman was going to drive her to "her car," but when they got to the lot she said it was it was empty. She then said she was waiting for friends to pick her up.

She never did come back for her things. The police and my bosses told me to just throw them all away.

Bethany said...

Part 2: (These are way long, but it's such a crazy story I don't want to leave out any details.)

A few weeks after the above mentioned incident (that happened right before Christmas break) the Asian woman showed up in my ward boundaries again. Around the block there was a house of girls. It was January and one of the girls who had been living there had moved out for an internship or something. An Asian woman knocked on their door to let them know she had bought the previous roommates contract and was moving in. The current roommates thought it was weird their previous roommate hadn't mentioned she'd been able to sell her contract and that the landlord didn't warn them a new roommate was coming, but let her in anyway.

The crazy Asian woman lived with them for about a week! And one of the girls had to share a bunk bed with her! I guess she was hardly ever home and she carried grocery bags around. She always slept in her clothes and she would get up in the middle of the night and leave for a few hours.

The girls in the house called their landlord and found out no one had bought the previous roommates contract yet. They called the police and they came and looked through the Asian woman's things while she was gone. They're guessing the woman found the contract posted on BYU Housing and somehow figured out that the girl hadn't sold her contract, but had to be out anyway. They also found her day planner. This is where it gets scary.

She had a bunch of people's social security numbers written down as well as a ton of other information about them. She had already started a page of one of the girls information in the house. She also had college ID cards with her picture on them from BYU, UVSC, U of U, and Weber. She was definitely crazy. She'd had conversations with herself in her planner. Some were written in English and some in whatever other language she speaks. From what I was told the conversations were not very nice and were filled with swear words and threatenings.

There were also bank statements and receipts in the planner. Apparently she was loaded! She had thousands in a bank account. I don't remember if the police took her in and released her shortly after or just issued her a court appearance right then. All I know is that she didn't spend anytime in jail and she was supposed to show up for a court date in mid-March. I really wish I knew the outcome of that. How would they keep track of her to make her show up?

It's not over yet. The day after the police showed up the Asian woman sat outside the girls house in a car (according to a receipt found in her planner she had just purchased it with cash) just watching them. Creepy!

I wonder if she's still around Provo. She definitely has mental problems and needs mega help.

Miss Berrie said...

Um, those are really creepy stories, and I'm kind of freaked out that I read them. But I just got on to say that I love it when I read a weird news story and think, "This sounds like a The Former 786 kind of story," and then it shows up on his blog.