We’ve all felt that slightly queasy, greasy feeling after devouring a deep-fried, oily, delicious Chinese takeout. One unfortunate California man took that greasy feeling to a whole new level recently after becoming stuck in an exhaust vent of a Chinese restaurant for nearly two days.
In an unusual take on the festive tradition of entering properties by means of a narrow chimney, this Father Christmas-wannabe learned the hard way that the human body really isn’t designed for rooftop-entry.
Sgt. Ray Kelly, Alameda County Sheriff’s spokesman, told ABC7 News that the man was most likely a would-be burglar whose plans had backfired in a potentially life-threatening way.
“First off we can confirm this man was not Santa Claus and did not have legal authority to be here,” he said, adding that it was still unclear what charges the suspect will face.
He went on to explain that “sometimes suspects try to break into businesses to steal copper wire and plumbing and recycling for money” and that this particular incident appeared to be “along those lines.”
930am, ACSO and @AlamedaCoFire responded to a vacant Chinese food restaurant on the 700 block of Bockman Rd. San Lorenzo. We located a trespasser(possible burglar) trapped in the grease vent on the roof. He had been there for about 2 days. Fire rescued him and he is in custody. pic.twitter.com/OfVN5e8oeV— Alameda County Sheriff (@ACSOSheriffs) December 12, 2018
The man was initially discovered by Igor Campos, the owner of the neighboring tax services business. Campos heard muffled cries for help when he entered his property but was unsure where or who the sounds were coming from.
"I keep hearing this ah, ah and I'm like, 'who can it be?’” Campos told reporters. He eventually decided to investigate the Chinese restaurant next door, which had been closed down for months. It was then that Campos found the source of the muffled cries: a man covered in thick, black grease wedged in an exhaust vent.
Rather than expressing relief at his long-awaited discovery, the man appeared to be anxious when Campos attempted to talk to him.
"I kept asking questions like, 'what's your name?'" said Campos. "And he said, 'just please help me... please don't hurt me.' I said, 'I'm not trying to hurt you, I'm trying to help you.'"
#DEVELOPING “Had he not been found today, we could be having a whole different conversation.” First responder says it was no joke for the man stuck in a restaurant grease vent. One more day, and he might not have made it. Instead he was rescued...with cuts and bruises. #ABC7now pic.twitter.com/bMNfdAcitc— Laura Anthony (@LauraAnthony7) December 12, 2018
Campos proceeded to call 911 and wait for firefighters to arrive before attempting to remove the man. When crews arrived, they found him stuck above the stove area, according to the Fire Department Battalion Chief, John Whiting, with just his legs and feet visible from below.
With no way to safely access or free the suspect, firefighters decided to dismantle the vent so they could lower him into the kitchen.
Crews were able to successfully liberate the trespasser from his greasy confines and proceeded to take him to the hospital in an ambulance. As he had no legal right to be in the vacant property - and especially not in the grease vent - he has since been taken to custody.
This burglar may have been caught red-handed – or rather, greasy-fingered – but he is lucky to be alive after spending two days trapped inside the vent. If Campos had not discovered him when he did, it may well have been a much more somber story.