By Steve Rogers

The Packet

An alert neighbor helps Columbus police catch a would-be burglar who tried a creative escape.

And 31-year-old Eugene L. Stewart is not stranger to law enforcement. In fact, the Mississippi Department of Corrections already had a warrant our for his arrest, police say.

His latest run-in with the law started just before 9 Sunday morning when residents on Limbo Road off Highway 69 South in southeast Columbus reported a man climbing through the window at 51A Limbo Road.

When police arrived, the intruder was trying to get out the back door. When police made contact with him, he wouldn’t come out and started barricading himself in the unit, according to a police department press release.

Officers located the resident of the unit who said no one had permission to be inside and police were welcome to search the residence.

The police S.W.A.T. team tried to convince the intruder to come out. When that failed, team members used a key to get inside. By then, the suspect had crawled into the attic and made his way to the attic of the adjacent apartment.

From there, he apparently kicked a hole in the ceiling of the adjacent apartment, dropped down into Unit 51B and hid in a closet. The resident of that apartment gave police the OK to search her unit as well, and that’s when Stewart was found.

Police say Stewart’s address is 315 Jimmy Phillips Road in Crawford. The department would not say how he got to the area, whether a vehicle was found in the area, or if he knew any of the apartment residents.

According to court records, Stewart’s arrest record dates back more than 15 years ago. Among other things, he was arrested in August 2005 for attempted burglary of an auto and sentenced to seven years.

In May 2012, he was sentenced to at least eight years for three counts of possession of cocaine stemming from incidents in 2010 and 2011. It’s that sentence for which the Mississippi Department of Corrections had a warrant out for Stewart’s arrest when he was hauled from the closet Sunday.