West Deptford police said a Repaupo man who allegedly broke into a Thorofare scrapyard survived a near deadly misstep after giving them the slip.
On October 17, the owners of Matteo Iron and Metal called police to report a trespasser on the property.
At the scene, however, "they couldn't find anything," said Investigator John Craig.
Police could determine the subject's point of entry, Craig said. They also discovered pry marks on the warehouse door "and a few scrap items lying around that had been piled up."
But there was no sign of anyone there, and the staff at the scrapyard returned to the office.
Not two or three minutes later, Craig said, the workers called back and reported seeing the same man walking through the scrapyard that they had seen earlier.
Police say that was Matthew Bartholomew, 31, of Repaupo, who was charged with burglary and trespassing. He also admitted in a taped statement "to making entry with the purpose of stealing things," Craig said.
Bartholomew was issued summonses and released. No property was ever removed from the lot.
Police wondered why Bartholomew allegedly returned to the scene so soon after they'd cleared it. They now believe he'd allegedly hidden on the roof of the building when they arrived.
When Bartholomew allegedly tried to climb down after police left, Craig said, he "stepped through a skylight and ended up falling through the roof 15 to 20 feet and onto the warehouse floor.
"He’s lucky that he lived," Craig said.
The broken skylight cost Bartholomew an additional criminal mischief charge.
All information provided by West Deptford police. An arrest is not a conviction.