Shoplifting Suspect in Store Ceiling Leads Deputies on 6-Hour Chase

October 8, 2019 Updated: October 8, 2019

Deputies chased a shoplifting suspect for several hours through the ceiling of a store, after she barricaded herself in the restroom and disappeared up into the crawl space.

Kristina Perkins, 37, was eventually arrested in the store, according to deputies, after she climbed down a set of shelves thinking that the coast was clear.

The Big Lot store in Port Charlotte, Florida, had to be evacuated during the bizarre six-hour chase because of the danger of Perkins falling through the ceiling.

Perkins had “entered the women’s restroom with a shopping cart full of merchandise,” at around 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 3, according to a news release from the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, after spending several hours in the store.

When the store manager went to check, they noticed “several garbage cans positioned in a manner to barricade the door.” The manager shouted out to Perkins that she had been caught and that law enforcement was on its way.

But when the manager managed to get into the bathroom, they found Perkins gone, and saw the missing ceiling tiles.

While the local fire service tried in vain to locate Perkins with their ladders and a thermal imaging system, a deputy found Perkins’s bag, which according to the sheriff’s office contained three syringes and a spoon with white residue that tested positive for morphine.

“Deputies were able to make visual contact with Perkins several times by removing tiles from various points in the ceiling,” said the sheriff’s office. “However, Perkins disregarded their commands to give up and would move to other locations in the ceiling.”

The ceiling of Big Lots during the search on Oct. 3. (Charlotte County Sheriff)

Emergency responders withdrew from the store after five hours but left one deputy inside, who spotted Perkins about an hour later as she climbed out of the ceiling and down a stack of shelves. She was arrested when she reached the ground.

Perkins is charged with felony criminal mischief, petit theft (3rd offense, felony), possession of drug paraphernalia, resisting a merchant, and resisting law enforcement without violence.

“Big Lots reports significant damage to their ceiling, ductwork, and drywall,” said the sheriff’s office. “The business will remain closed until repairs can be made.”

Dropping From a Jail Ceiling

Last year a woman in a Colorado jail was caught on camera dropping from the ceiling and dashing across the lobby, before being confronted by a deputy and arrested.

Jessica Leger, 29, was released from custody on the evening of Nov. 21, according to a Fox31 report, but before leaving the prison complex decided to use the toilet.

Leger had just finished using the women’s bathroom in the Inmate Services lobby of the Jefferson County Jail when she found herself locked in.

Reporters who reviewed the arrest affidavit said when Leger couldn’t get the door open, she screamed for help.

Deputies responded to her distress by trying to pry the door open. They reported hearing Leger yelling through the door that deputies had “released someone ahead of her that had threatened her life.”

The officers also said that they overheard Leger saying she was having a psychotic episode.

Tom Ozimek contributed to this report.

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