Break-in suspect caught smoking on homeowner’s bed in York County

Samuel Ciopasiu. (Photo courtesy: Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail)

YORK COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) — A homeless man was caught on New Year’s Eve smoking in the bed of a York County home after breaking in, deputies said.

Samuel Ciopasiu broke into a home on Barrington Lane, in the Kiln Creek area, on Dec. 31, according to the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office.

William Phillips said he owns the home, but no longer lives there, and was checking it for packages while his wife was away on vacation.

“As I walked in the house, I smelled smoke, and no one in the house smokes, so it was weird to smell cigarette smoke, so I wasn’t sure what was going on.”

As he walked upstairs, Phillips said he was stunned to see a man in bed through a crack in the door.

“Then I approached the gentleman that was in the house… asked him what he was doing there and his response was, ‘I was about to take a shower. I was just getting my stuff.’ I said, ‘This isn’t your house. This is my house.’ I said, ‘You need to get out.'”

Deputies said Ciopasiu appeared to have eaten salmon from a package that was delivered to the house, smoked cigarettes, made himself at home on several couches and beds, and even used the bath. Phillips said his adrenaline was pumping when he saw the man, and the encounter could have ended badly.

“If I had a gun on me, he could have been shot, easily,” Phillips said.

Phillips said Ciopasiu ran from the home and hopped a fence, then Phillips got in his car and stopped him across the street with the help of a nearby driver who pulled a gun.

Lt. Dennis Ivey with the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office said some have been comparing the crime to the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

“This may appear to be a fairy tale story to people, from a kids’ story, but this is traumatic for people who live in the home. I mean, imagine, somebody sleeping in your bed, somebody taking your food. I mean, it violates the sanctity of somebody’s house and that’s hard to get past… If you’re homeless, look for places that can help you. I know that there’s the Peninsula Rescue Mission in downtown Newport News… There are resources out there. You just can’t break into somebody’s house and stay there,” he said.

Phillips said he wants to see justice served, but hopes Ciopasiu can change his life.

“I certainly don’t want him doing it to anybody else, and when I think about the fact that he could have been in there when my wife and daughter got home, I mean, that infuriates me, but on the other hand, you know, I wish that he was in a place where he didn’t have to look for a place to get warm, to get food. I wish there were better options for him,” Phillips said.

Ciopasiu has no known address and is facing charges of breaking and entering and grand larceny.