Roommates can be irritating. Maybe they come home at odd hours, leave the lights on, eat all your food, or refuse to take out the garbage. But while these habits may annoy you, they don't compare with not knowing you have a roommate in the first place.
Perhaps you come home one day and discover a few things out of place, or can't find the groceries you swore you just bought, leading you to ponder, "Is there someone secretly living in my house?" It's hard to imagine someone invading your home without your knowledge, but news accounts of secret house guests suggest it's not an impossible scenario.
Certain signs can tell you if someone secretly lives in your house, but there are a lot of ways an unwanted guest can turn your home... into theirs.
You Notice Personal Items Are Missing
Pens, sunglasses, lip balm, a sock - these things almost always go missing around the house. But maybe you've noticed you can't find more substantial items, like food, toilet paper, towels, expensive technology, or entire outfits.
If you're missing big necessities like these, an unwanted guest might be using them. Stacy Ferrance of Pennsylvania called police in 2008 when she noticed money, a computer, and an iPod missing. Authorities discovered a man living in her attic. Ferrance said:
When he came down from the attic, he was wearing my daughter's pants and my sweatshirt and sneakers. From what I gather, he was helping himself to my home, eating my food, and stealing my clothes.
You Can't Shake The Feeling Someone Is Watching You
We've all experienced that "I'm not alone" feeling. We think someone is peering at us through a window or a laptop camera - or right over our shoulders, looking through the air vents in our homes.
That's what happened to a woman in Rock Hill, SC, in 2012. She began hearing strange noises from her attic and said something didn't feel right. When her nephew investigated, he discovered her ex-boyfriend. The man had been secretly living in the attic since being released from prison - and more than 12 years after the couple's breakup.
The man apparently slept in a heating unit and rigged the air vents so he could secretly spy on the woman. The suspect fled before police arrived and he remains at large.
Things In Your House Aren't In Their Proper Place
Though you can't keep track of the exact placement of everything in your house, you can sense when an item isn't where it belongs. Maybe a book migrated to another table, a chair moved across the room, or the cereal boxes got rearranged. Someone had to do the moving, though, and a careless intruder might be the culprit.
In 2008, a man living alone in Japan became suspicious when his belongings weren't in their usual place. He set up a security camera, which revealed someone was moving around his home. Police discovered a homeless woman had been living in his storage closet for over a year.
You Notice Trash And Other Items In Common Areas
True story: I once lived in a three-story apartment building with its own unwanted guest.
The place had two separate staircases and multiple points of entry. Every so often (most notably in the wintertime), my neighbors and I noticed small scraps - food, mail, an old sock - under the stairwells. We also found back doors left ajar and heard strange noises on the roof that sounded like footsteps.
As it turns out, a homeless man was using our building as a shelter and had been for years. He came and went when no one would notice, and occasionally slept on the roof.