Lakewood man accused of drunkenly swapping furniture in neighbors’ absence

A Lakewood man accused of drunkenly swapping furniture with his neighbors while they were away and the friend who helped were both in jail Thursday, according to court records.

Both men pleaded not guilty Wednesday to residential burglary.

Charging papers give this account:

The Lakewood couple gone for the weekend returned Monday to their apartment in the 5700 block of 95th Street Southwest and found a recliner and TV stand that didn’t belong to them, as well as empty beer bottles and pizza boxes.

Missing was their love seat, matching chair and ottoman, a cushion for a papasan-style chair, a king-sized mattress from the bedroom and a carpet-cleaning machine. Also missing were pots and pans, dishes, food and military-issued equipment.

Tracking the thieves seemed pretty straightforward for police: One left behind a traffic citation stating his name and address; the other left a pizza receipt that had his information.

Police spoke with both men, one of whom lived in a neighboring apartment.

The first man said he’d entered his neighbor’s apartment because the door was open.

He said the neighbor had mentioned the couple might be moving, so he figured they’d abandoned their furniture. He said he drunkenly decided to switch it with his own, calling his buddy for help.

He showed officers where the property was, and police found the living room set, four pillows, two floor lamps, two end tables, a TV stand and an inflatable couch with an air pump.

There also were three blankets, an iron, a large picture with an ornamental frame, a floor fan, the military equipment, a black stand with four shelves and a plastic container with three drawers and various items inside.

Finally was the papasan chair, a rectangular wall mirror, an ironing board and a box of women’s shoes.

The first man’s friend, whose name was on the pizza receipt, admitted ordering the food, but denied taking stuff from the apartment.

Police found a cover to a crawl space in the apartment was completely off, leading them to believe that’s how the thieves got in.

It wasn’t the first time someone had gotten in trouble for using the crawl space to break into the apartment, police said.

The first suspect’s brother, who lived with his sibling, used the crawl space to enter the neighboring unit when different tenants lived there, police said.