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Stupid Case File for April 23, 2005

Burglar Gets Stuck in Chimney at Nev. Home

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RENO, Nev. - A burglar was busted because he made such a clatter and got stuck — in the chimney of a Lake Tahoe home. A neighbor on the lake's north shore in Kings Beach, Calif., telephoned the sheriff about 10 p.m. Wednesday when he heard screams coming from next door where the residents were away on vacation.

Sheriff's deputies and a fire rescue team found Jose Francisco Martinez, 19, wedged halfway down the chimney. He apparently had been stuck there for about two hours, Placer County Sheriff's Sgt. Brian Whigam said Thursday.

"We've had bears stuck in chimneys before but we haven't had people," Whigam told The Associated Press.

"It's crazy. The video we took is funny," he said.

Authorities were forced to dismantle half the chimney brick by brick to free Martinez, doing about $20,000 damage in the process, Whigam said.

Investigators determined Martinez was aware the residents were out of town. He attempted to enter the house through doors and windows unsuccessfully, Whigam said.

He apparently found a ladder and climbed on the roof, where he attached a cable and lowered his 5-foot-4, 115-pound frame down the chimney before he became stuck and started to yell for help, Whigam said.

Martinez suffered only minor scrapes and bruises and did not require medical attention, Whigam said.

He was booked into the Placer County Jail on a charge of residential burglary and was being held Thursday night in lieu of $25,000 bail.


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