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Cops: Blankets Gave Away Squatter in Stadium's Luxury Suite

'He made himself quite at home': Fla. police on homeless man's alleged 2-week stay at stadium
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 17, 2020 7:09 AM CDT

(Newser) – Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg is the home of the Tampa Bay Rowdies pro soccer team—and for at least two weeks, it was also the home of an uninvited visitor. Police in the Florida city say Daniel Albert Neja, a 39-year-old homeless man, was arrested Sunday evening at the 7,200-seat venue after a cleaning crew stumbled upon blankets, a razor, and shaving cream in a luxury suite there, St. Petersburg Police Department rep Yolanda Fernandez tells WFLA. Authorities say he also helped himself to food from the stadium's concession area during his stay. "He made himself quite at home there," Fernandez tells CNN, adding that Neja busted into the stadium's merch store and donned team apparel as well.

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When authorities scanned surveillance footage, they placed Neja at the stadium since at least July 26. He was busted Sunday just outside of the venue shortly after police arrived. Per an arrest report cited by the Tampa Bay Times, he sucked down $250 worth of beverages and stole nearly $1,050 worth of clothing. What cops say facilitated Neja's extended stay: COVID-19. "Under normal circumstances that stadium would be full of people, and luxury suites would be in use and cleaned regularly," Fernandez says, per CNN. Still, she says it's "surprising" that staff didn't find him sooner. Neja—who recently pleaded guilty to breaking into a local elementary school in what he says was a hunt for food, per an arrest report—was charged this time with burglary and a first-degree misdemeanor of resisting an officer without violence. His bond is set at $5,150. (Read more homeless stories.)

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