WAUKESHA -- A 37-year-old homeless man has been charged with a felony after spending the night in the Blain's Farm & Fleet on Kossow Road in Waukesha after the store closed.
Police arrived at the store Easter Sunday morning after a security alarm was set off.
In the security footage, officers saw the man, identified as Benjamin Kletsch, walking around inside the building and taking a Dr Pepper soda from a cooler. The Dr Pepper cost $1.69.
Kletsch then walked past the service desk and later exited through the back of the business around 7 a.m. Officers found what looked like a makeshift bed area inside one of the dressing rooms -- where is he believed to have slept overnight.
Officers then went to the McDonald's restaurant directly across the street from Farm & Fleet. Kletsch was found in the corner of the McDonald's with the Dr Pepper he had taken from Farm & Fleet.
Kletsch later admitted to police that he entered store around 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 30 minutes before he believed the store would close. He says he hid under some jacket racks until the store closed. The Farm & Fleet store said it would not open the following day because of the Easter Sunday holiday.
He told police he gathered jackets and “laid them out on the floor of a changing room so that he could go to sleep there," adding he “didn’t have anywhere to go."
Kletsch also said he took the Dr Pepper because he was "thirsty."
When police searched his property, they found a hypodermic orange capped needle inside a toothbrush holder. Kletsch admitted to police that he used heroin.
“It’s more common than we want to admit,” said Salvation Army Major Nelson Da La Vergne.
De La Vergne has seen cases like Benjamin Kletsch’s before. The Salvation Army facility on Madison Street in Waukesha has the largest men’s shelter in the Waukesha county. They have 48 beds and most nights are filled to capacity.
“We don’t have enough sheltering here in Waukesha County nor do I think we have enough anywhere it’s a constant need,” said De La Vergne.
According to the criminal complaint, when police arrested Kletsch, he admitted he was a heroin user. Officers found a hypodermic needle on him and a “lengthy track mark” on his arm.
If he was using at the time, De La Vergne says he wouldn’t have been able to stay at any of the local shelters.
“We had an overflow shelter which was open to anybody no matter what their use was as long as long as they were able to self-rescue well that closed on the 31st,” said De La Vergne.
March 31 was the same night Kletsch told police he slept at the Farm and Fleet.
The Salvation Army said it’s working with the Housing Action Coalition in Waukesha County to have a permanent shelter for addicts, but it’s been an effort for many years.
Benjamin Kletsch is expected in court next month.