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Youths Hide in Department Store for Nine Days

September 30, 1988

FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) _ A department store manager discovered why his burglar alarm had been ringing off and on for days when he crawled into a suspended ceiling and found three youths stowed away with food, clothing and electronic equipment.

Two of the youths, both 13, ran away from home Sept. 19 and went to the Zayre store, where they climbed into the ceiling and hid until closing hours, police officer Richard Marzilli said.

″When the store closed for the night, they started to set themselves up for a long stay,″ Marzilli said.

During the nine days, the boys entertained themselves and ate food from the store, police said.

On Monday, the boys persuaded an 11-year-old boy to join them after he got out of school.

Officials found a steam heater, a clock, a video cassette recorder, 21 TV sets, one camera, nine pairs of sneakers, 89 cassette tapes, 34 videotapes, 20 battery packs, a cassette player, a backpack, 17 packs of gum, five sweatshirts, nine travel bags, two sleeping bags, a reading light and cheese crackers.

Even the boys’ clothing was taken from the store, authorities said.

Marzilli said he was called to the store when the manager, James Fingles, told him that the burglar alarm had been sounding during the night for more than a week.

But each time police and store personnel checked the store, they could not find any point of forced entry.

On Wednesday morning, Fingles noticed an extension cord leading to a ceiling panel. He climbed up into the suspended ceiling and followed the cord, crawling about 70 feet before coming across the youths, who were surrounded by items from the store.

Marzilli said the extension cord was plugged into a television set and a video cassette recorder ″for their entertainment after store hours.″

The boys have been charged with juvenile delinquency.

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