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Plumber's Escapade After Two-Week Methamphetamine Binge Ends With His Arrest

Lakeland Ledger, January 11, 2013

LAKELAND | When deputies found Thomas McFadden on Thursday, he was hiding in a closet with a Tiffany-style lamp shade over his head as a disguise, according to the Polk County Sheriff's Office.

Minutes earlier, he had fallen through ceiling tiles at the South Lakeland Outback Steakhouse and into a liquor closet before running away and breaking into a man's home.

Deputies said in reports the incidents were induced by a "two-week methamphetamine binge."

But McFadden, 35, now faces burglary of an occupied home, burglary of an unoccupied structure and two counts of criminal mischief, according to reports.

He remains at the Polk County Jail, records show.

McFadden, who owns McFadden Plumbing, first approached employees at the restaurant shortly after 2 p.m. Thursday and claimed he had been called to fix a leak.

The employees were unaware of any current plumbing problems, but said there had been a leak in the women's restroom a week ago, reports said. The employee asked McFadden to wait while she talked to a manager.

McFadden, according to deputies' reports, then went to the women's restroom and tried to climb into the ceiling. He eventually climbed the wall of a stall and later fell through the ceiling on the other side of the restroom wall, landing inside the restaurant's liquor closet.

His landing broke several bottles, reports said. He also caused damage to the restaurant's duct work, wiring, ceiling and several light fixtures.

Employees repeatedly told him to leave, but he didn't, reports said.

He told them he was with Stuart's Plumbing, but only after employees revealed that's who they contract with, reports said. They learned the company didn't employ him.

When employees questioned him, McFadden ran out of the restaurant, a report said. Deputies had been called and were on their way.

Outback's kitchen manager chased after him until McFadden jumped into a retention pond, the report said.

A few minutes later, Robert Gardner heard a loud banging and went to his living room to see what was causing the loud commotion, report said. There he found McFadden, wet, muddy and sitting on his couch.

Gardner asked the man why he was there and McFadden replied, "I'm looking for Eric McFadden," the report said. Gardner asked him to leave, but McFadden refused.

Suddenly McFadden stood up and asked for a Dr Pepper, but Gardner told him he didn't have any, reports said. That's when McFadden ran into a back bedroom, locked the door and refused to come out.

When deputies arrived and forced their way inside the bedroom, McFadden was found inside the closet with a Tiffany-style lamp shade on his head