The Woman Living In Your Cupboard

A man who lived alone in Fukuoka in southern Japan began to grow suspicious in early 2008 when he noticed food was going missing from his refrigerator for several months. He began to fear that he was the victim of repeat burglaries, but he was not able to see how or when the culprits had been breaking into his home. As a result, he installed security cameras around his one-story house that transmitted images to his mobile phone.

Then, on May 8th, 2008, one of the cameras captured someone moving inside his home while he was away. Believing he had detected a burglar breaking into his house, he called the police. However, the police were surprised when they found the doors and windows locked and intact with no sign of break-in. The police began searching the entire house, checking everywhere that they thought someone could possibly hide. Then, when they slid open a shelf closet, they found a woman nervously curled up on her side.


The police had found a homeless woman, identified as 58-year-old Tatsuko Horikawa. She had been hiding in the top of a built-in cupboard designed to store bedding and mattresses. A spokesman for the police commented that Horikawa had laid out a thin futon and had several plastic drink bottles in the cupboard where there had been just enough room for her to lay down.


The police were investigating how she managed to go in and out of the house unnoticed, as well as details of her life inside the closet. They also tried to determine if she had taken anything else besides food, but she did not appear to have stolen any money or other items of value from the house. She did admit to using of the shower and toilet, with the police citing her appearance as “neat and clean”.


Horikawa told police that she had nowhere to live and had first taken up residence in the cupboard, in a room that the man rarely used, about one year previously when the owner had gone out and did not lock the door. The police believed that the woman may have used this residence as well as other houses in the area as makeshift sleeping quarters for the past year, bouncing between locations to minimize the chances of being caught. They also confirmed that they had arrested Horikawa for trespassing, but would not comment further on the case.


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