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Man With Rare Uncontrollable Appetite Disorder Pleads No Contest For Food Burglaries

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A man with a rare genetic disorder that gives him an uncontrollable appetite has pled no contest to breaking into homes to steal food.

20-year-old Tyler Jarvis of Pismo Beach has a rare disorder known as Prader-Willi syndrome, a potentially life-threatening disorder that—among other symptoms—gives him a constant sensation of hunger, the L.A. Times reports. In the fall of 2014, Jarvis is said to have entered two homes to steal food and other items, including a sleeping bag, a backpack and cash—which his attorney said he intended to use to live on his own, according to the San Luis Obispo Tribune. Jarvis attempted to enter a third home as well. Following the break-ins, Jarvis was charged with several felonies and misdemeanors, including burglary and vandalism. Those charges will now be dropped as part of the plea bargain.

Jarvis has now pleaded no contest to five misdemeanor counts of petty theft and trespassing, and instead of jail time will live in a group home and complete a treatment program for people with Prader-Willi syndrome. He has also agreed to pay restitution to the victims, according to The Associated Press. Until now, he has been living with his mother, Michelle Christian, who locks up food in the house to prevent Jarvis from eating himself to death, but his disorder led him to sneak out of the home to seek food elsewhere, according to The Tribune. Christian has been searching for a group home for her son for years, but has found it difficult to find one that specializes in treatment for Prader-Willi syndrome. And while she hoped the case would be dropped, she tells The Tribune that she's relieved he'll receive professional care.

“He’s going to be safe and, I think, happier there,” Christian said. “It’s too much for one person to do on their own.”

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Prader-Willi syndrome occurs in one out of every 15,000 to 2,500 births, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The inability to control eating is one of the main symptoms, and the condition is considered a leading genetic cause of life-threatening obesity. Some of the other symptoms can include short stature, low muscle tone, delayed intellectual development, difficulty controlling emotions and obsessive thinking.

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