'Roof ninja' woman found living inside shop sign said it was an 'old safe spot'

22 May 2024, 08:28 | Updated: 22 May 2024, 10:31

A woman who was living inside a sign on the roof of a Michigan supermarket told police officers who found her it was an "old safe spot".

The 34-year-old woman, who has not been named, was found by police in the attic-like space inside the Family Fare sign on 23 April.

The woman had been living there for over a year and had a coffee maker, computer, bedding, phone and even a printer with her, police said.

The sign was estimated to be about 5ft (1.5m) wide and 8ft (2.4m) high and has a door that is accessible from the roof.

Asked how she found the space, she said it was "an old safe spot" that was known to her family and secret to most others.

"Not anymore," she remarked after police found her.

She stopped short of explaining why she had been living there for over a year.

The woman, who emerged in black clothing with ski goggles perched on her head, had been given the nickname "roof ninja", one police officer joked.

"Tell me that ain't cool," they said to the woman.

"That's true," she responded.

When she asked the officers how they got on the roof, one said: "Ladder. We're not a roof ninja."

Police were called to the store when contractors working on the roof followed an extension cord to the hideaway. The woman was inside when two officers asked her to open a small door on the back of the sign.

'I honestly don't know how she was getting up there'

After the exchange, Brennon Warren of the Midland Police Department said: "I honestly don't know how she was getting up there. She didn't indicate, either," he said.

There was no sign of a ladder, so it's possible the woman made her way to the roof by climbing up elsewhere behind the store or other retail businesses, he explained.

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The woman told police she had a job elsewhere and asked to call her employer and get a truck to put her belongings in storage, but the officers said no, making clear that store staff would remove the possessions and return them to her.

"There was some flooring that was laid down. A mini desk. Her clothing. A Keurig coffee maker. A printer and a computer - things you'd have in your home," Officer Warren added.

The woman was able to get electricity through a power cord plugged into an outlet on the roof, he said.

Police said the woman was cooperative and quickly agreed to leave. No charges were pursued and she was provided with information about local services in the area.

"She apologised and continued on her way," Mr Warren said. "Where she went from there, I don't know."

A spokesperson for SpartanNash, the parent company of Family Fare, said store employees responded "with the utmost compassion and professionalism".

"Ensuring there is ample safe, affordable housing continues to be a widespread issue nationwide that our community needs to partner in solving," they added.