YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Loraine Centofanti says she’s still cleaning up the mess she claims an intruder left behind in her home.
Police say that intruder is 33-year-old Jacob Merchant. Investigators say he broke into Centofanti’s house and four other homes on the south side of Youngstown.
The string of burglaries is not unusual but what Merchant did inside the homes is raising some eyebrows. When Centofanti came home from work Tuesday night she caught Merchant in her house, and he was in the shower.
“He’s in here sitting down in the shower rinsing his hair,” Centofanti said.
When Centofanti ran out of her house to call police, Merchant ran out, too. Detectives caught up with him after he was spotted boarding a WRTA bus.
Investigators discovered Merchant has a lengthy arrest record for burglary and theft and that he admitted to five recent break-ins.
“He just kept saying he went to get warm and eat,” said Sgt. Mike Cox, Youngstown Police Department.
Cox said in each case, Merchant brought bags of food, cigarettes and beer with him. He was caught on surveillance video at a Shell station just around the corner from Centofanti’s house shortly before he kicked in the door in and went inside her house.
“He admitted to us he went in about an hour after he bought everything. He was probably there four-and-a-half hours,” Cox said.
Centofanti said Merchant trashed every room in her house, leaving food, filth and debris all around.
Detectives suspect Merchant may have some mental health issues but Centofanti is still shaken by the ordeal.