VALPARAISO | Police checking on a vacant home discovered a woman who had taken up residence without the owner's knowledge.
Michelle Mikrut, 35, of Valparaiso, was arrested Tuesday and charged with residential entry after police said they watched her enter the home in the 200 block of Jefferson Street.
The homeowner reported last week the home had been vandalized and police found cigarette butts in the home, leading them to believe someone had been staying there.
About 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, two officers went to the home to check on it, and with the homeowner's permission, went inside. The officers reported it smelled of cigarette smoke, suggesting someone had been in the house recently.
According to a police report, officers went outside and saw a woman walking in the neighborhood. One officer got back into his car, and the other stood behind a nearby building and watched and the woman entered the home through the backdoor.
Officers followed the woman, Mikrut, inside and asked her to step outside.
Police said Mikrut initially denied living there, but eventually told police she had been staying with a friend but left that friend's home when the friend was mean to her. She told officers she started staying at the house because it was too cold to live outside.