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WESTERLY — Police are praising a local contractor who captured a man, in possession of a machete, who had been sleeping in the basement of an unoccupied home on Canal Street.

Westerly Police Chief Shawn Lacey said Tuesday that the man, Ricky Seekins, 35, was arrested after he tried to flee from the basement after the contractor arrived.

Seekins, who was last listed as living at 11 Acorn Drive, was charged with breaking and entering, simple assault or battery, possession of a prohibited weapon other than a firearm, and disorderly conduct. He was arraigned Friday in Fourth Division District Court, according to judicial records, and remains in custody at the Adult Correctional Institutions in Cranston.

According to a police report, the contractor arrived at the home around 6:45 p.m. on Thursday to work on the property. Police said the home was unoccupied at the time. The property owner had hired the contractor to complete work before tenants were scheduled to move in on Feb. 1.

When the contractor opened the front door, police said he heard a noise from the basement and stepped outside to see Seekins leaving the house through a bulkhead door. He tackled Seekins in the backyard and held him down with his knee until officers arrived — in the meantime suffering a bite to his leg as Seekins struggled with him.

Lacey said officers searched Seekins and discovered that he was carrying an 18-inch machete in a sling pouch around his neck. The machete was tucked inside his coat and not initially visible, police said.

Further investigation determined that Seekins had entered the home, a raised ranch, through a full-size basement window. Inside the home, a ladder was found resting against the window and police said that Seekins had set up two chairs as a makeshift bed. Seekins "was less than cooperative," according to police, but was charged without further incident.

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