A man who broke into the Army Surplus Warehouse on Thursday told police he wanted to be arrested to avoid spending winter out in the cold.
James Summers III, 46, was charged with felony malicious injury to property, punishable with up to five years in prison. He also was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, punishable with up to a year in jail.
The Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office responded after a store alarm went off. Deputies arrived to find several broken windows and could hear Summers yelling and breaking items inside the store. A deputy ordered Summers to get on the ground, then handcuffed him.
Summers told the deputies that he broke into the store because he believed people who were after him were inside the store and he wanted to be taken seriously. Summers also told deputies he was high on methamphetamine.
A deputy again asked Summers why he broke in and he replied that it was the first business he saw when he came into town. Summers said he had wanted to be arrested and that he could not handle another winter. The overnight low on Thursday was 11 degrees.
A probable cause affidavit lists Summers home address as the Union Gospel Mission of Salem in Salem, Ore. Raleigh Kirschman, supporting services case manager for the mission, said Summers had stayed there from March 2014 until November 2015.
Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Bryan Lovell said it was unknown when he was arrested if Summers was homeless and that he had been hitchhiking across the country.
The Army Surplus Warehouse suffered two broken glass exterior doors and two broken exterior windows. An interior glass window and glass door also were broken. Between the glass damage and the damage to merchandise, the Army Surplus Warehouse estimated the total cost of damage to be more than $5,000.
Tyler Perkins, executive director of the Idaho Falls Rescue Mission’s men’s shelter, said it’s not uncommon for people to commit crimes in order to get into jail.
“Some people, they know they’re warm (in jail), they’re safe, and they have three square meals a day,” Perkins said.
Availability of beds at local homeless shelters can vary, but Perkins said the shelter can provide floor mats for people needing to get out of the cold if the beds are full. Those seeking shelter who are high on drugs can be sent to a detox center.
“No matter what, we’re never going to throw someone out on the street to freeze to death,” Perkins said.
Summers’ bond was set at $10,000. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Jan. 11 in Bonneville County Courthouse.