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Mattress, Carpet, Chairs in Attic of Store

October 27, 1987

TURLOCK, Calif. (AP) _ Two teen-age boys made a temporary, well-stocked home in the attic of a shopping center, authorities say.

To get in, they had to climb up an access ladder and then through a 16-inch by 16-inch air conditioning vent.

They hauled up a mattress, carpeting, two metal lawn chairs, a small stove and a set of milk crates for shelves, said Fire Marshal Dick Lutz. They even painted and partitioned the area, using cardboard for insulation, and tapped into a circuit breaker for electricity.

″They were real nice guys,″ said Richard Sargis, owner of the Video Box store which was underneath the improvised home. ″It takes someone pretty ingenious to do all that. ... They really took it all seriously.″

Neither police nor fire officials know how long the teen-agers, age 16 and 17, lived in the makeshift shelter.

Police first caught the boys Oct. 10 after merchants complained about footsteps on the roof of the shopping center.

The boys were taken into custody for investigation of trespassing, but no charges were filed and they were released to the custody of their parents. The next week, firefighters checking for a short discovered the furniture and carpet were back.

This time the boys were not found. Police Sgt. Carlos Martins said Monday he was unaware of any followup investigation to make sure both boys still were living their families.

The 16-year-old reportedly had been kicked out of his home and was ″left to fend for himself,″ said Steven Sanders, co-owner of Sanders Construction in Modesto, which developed the shopping center.

Police didn’t know why the other boy, a 17-year-old from the Turlock area, was not living at home.

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