Unsolved U.S. Burglaries

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The Confessions of a Professional Burglar

 

burglar in Hawaii

 

It was on a Saturday morning, 7 years ago, while enjoying a cup of coffee at a local coffee shop, a man that introduced himself as Chris C…… asked me very politely if he could join me for a cup of coffee as there were no other seats available. The coffee shop had been infiltrated by an army of college students armed with laptops and personalized coffee mugs. A bit intrigued and embarrassed, I accepted his request to join me for a couple of shots of caffeine and the possibility of some small talk like two men would have sitting at a bar, drinking beer and sharing secrets of their inner demons. After all, I was hogging a table that could sit six caffeine-addicted college students. Chris was very cordial, our conversation started out normal like any other conversation would for the first time you meet a person; we discussed sports, our families, and the places we have lived.

Chris was a clean-cut Caucasian that appeared to be in his mid 40’s, about 5’8 maybe 5’9 and around 180 pounds; my first impression of him was a middle-aged business man. I did not take noticed of any visible scars or tattoos; he did however, have a  certain physique about him. He appeared to be in impeccable shape; at least one who could handle himself if he was acquainted with a physical altercation. He had the voice of George Clooney and personality of Sean Maguire from the Movie “Goodwill Hunting” played by Robin Williams. Our conversation had became a bit interesting when we discussed what we did for a living, especially when Chris shared his story.

Chris had confessed that he had been a professional burglar for the past twenty years and that he, his wife, and three children retired here in Hawaii. The background noise of the coffee shop started to fade and became muffled as if my brain had adjusted some type of hidden master volume control allowing me to only focus on Chris. I honestly thought this dude was pulling my leg; but hell, fact or fiction, I didn’t care as the story was starting to get good. In front of him, Chris opened a paper-bound notebook about the size of a Stephan King hardback book. The dirt-stained, torn corner-edges and the faded top cover revealed the books’ true age; the pages contained what appeared to be handwritten notes, addresses, amateur sketches of floor plans, police scanner frequencies, embryonic concepts, and oddly enough, IQ values; all of which were visible to anyone that was in close proximity.

It was not until he started to share the contents in his paper-bound notebook that I realized that there could possibly be some truth to his story; he shared his notebook as often as he could to prove some of the facts of his story. Chris called the notebook his project book; the first few pages dated back to the mid 1980’s. The notebook contained detailed notes on how he had planned on breaking into homes and businesses: dates and times, assumptions, observations, risk factors, back-out plans, and tools that he needed. Interestingly enough, the notebook also outlined the aftermath of successful burglaries, which he called as “Lessons Learned.” The lessons learned allowed him to analyze his criminal mischief to future proof his career.

Chris made it very clear that at the time that he was committing these crimes, he did not see himself as a burglar. Chris described himself as an educated professional businessman; his business plan was that of acquiring goods that he called professional projects. I met my fair share of wackos and compulsive liars! I was not born yesterday; I am not all that gullible, and I am one that cannot easily be influenced. With that being said, Chris appeared neither delusional nor insane. “Listen, I know my professional career was criminal, what I was doing was wrong; there is no doubt in that! However, the minute that you believe you are a criminal, is the minute you are caught.” he says.

The project book contained every single burglary that he had ever planned and committed in his 20-year professional career as a burglar. Chris said that there are few types of burglar’s: the Prowler, the Opportunist, the Scout, the Entrepreneur, and he was an Entrepreneur cialis online without prescription.

The opportunist burglar is one who does not know what they want to steal; they will typically use open doors or windows to gain access to a premise and will steal anything they can get their hands on; what they find is what they get. One-step above the opportunist is the prowler; the prowler is typically tactful, well organized and the burglaries will be sophisticated. The bastard child of the opportunist is the Scout; the Scout is determined, and the burglaries are premeditated. The Scout is a messy thief; typically will do anything to break into the home: break a window, drill a lock, or kick in a door. The Scout will take anything that can fit into a backpack and is the type that is most likely to be caught.

Chris stated that the Entrepreneur burglar is a professional burglar that considers their criminal actions as their career; they are well educated in the art of thievery, business, law, criminal science, and technology. The entrepreneur encompasses all the other types of burglars, but from a professional standpoint, the professional burglar will be: dedicated, smart, skilled, well organized, well planned, well educated, and a sole proprietor; Chris explains that you cannot trust anyone, so an Entrepreneur will work alone and will never work with a partner! “Any criminal, to save their ass, at a drop of a dime will rat you out to the police faster than you can say ‘rat poison’.” He says.

When I asked him what he did for his regular day job while he was a professional burglar, Chris stated that one could not commit burglaries efficiently or effectively as a part-time “job”; there is just not enough time in a day if you also have a full-time day job. You might get away with it for a while, eventually it will become too much to handle resulting in making stupid mistakes, and in the end, he guaranteed that eventually you would be caught. Interestingly enough, I was flabbergasted to hear him say that he has been a professional burglar for over 20 years and married for 30. He mentioned that he has never been questioned as a suspect in any open burglary case that he had committed, let alone even have stepped foot into a police station. He did state that he might have had a few traffic infractions that he had received over the years. He also had stated that he had never been convicted of any crime; he says his record is what they call, squeaky-clean. “You have been really lucky,” I kindly stated. Chris responded and said, “You’re lucky in Vegas, what I got away with was not luck my friend, I was just that good!”

At this point, I honestly started looking around for hidden cameras and waiting to be pranked or something. I had to ask him, “Why are you telling me this? What makes you trust me with what you are telling me, I could report you to the authorities?” You can!” he says, “but… the statute of limitations have already been expired for state and federal statutes” He had a mercurial personality about him; not violent, but just enough to let you know when you were a bit out of line.

Chris came across very intelligent, well spoken, and a little egotistical at times. He spoke very highly of his wife and three children; it was very clear that his family were very important to him. “They are my world, and I would do anything for them!” Chris said. I asked Chris, “If your family means so much to you, then why would you continue your career as a burglar and risk at going to prison; you could have done anything, why this?” At this point, I could tell he was becoming a little agitated. He said that I was being judgmental and making sound like he was selfish. I politely explained that it was not my intention and that I was only curious. I explained to Chris that he was the one that opened the book, not me. Chris explained that he did not look at it as I did; it was his career, no different from a doctor to his/her patient on a sterile surgery table completely focused. If the doctor was to lose focus, ultimately the doctor is not paying attention and could end up killing their patient; “Not that I have ever killed anyone, let alone harmed anyone, but if I had lost focus, I could have ended up getting captured and arrested by law enforcement. If I convinced myself that I was not doing anything wrong, there would be no stress, no worry, or confusion in what I was doing; I was providing for my family.” Chris explained.

I asked Chris how he got started in his “career”; he said it all started when he was 17 years old. He claimed he was from a wealthy family of high achievers; his father a Doctor, mother a Lawyer, and two brothers that were Michigan State Troopers. On a summer afternoon in 1975 while they were enjoying summer activities of Frisbee, Horseshoe, and swimming at a local lake in Michigan, their house was burglarized. The thief harvested over $1.2 million worth of jewelry; however, the criminal was caught a few days later trying to pawn the loot at the local pawnshop for $400.00! “1.2 million dollars in a single day, yup, sign me up” Chris said. He was sold.

Chris appeared to have a complex and genius mind, one that he claims yielded an IQ of 141 on a good day; he states that the results vary between 135 and 140. On a bad day, he would test between 115 and 120 consistently; which he says is typically caused by not getting enough sleep, not eating right, not drinking enough water, and even under stress. He said, “I am a firm believer that if you cannot do the time, do not do the crime.” Therefore, before the start of any project, he would conduct an IQ test and if it were below 135, he would terminate that project and start another at a different location. This is something he claimed that he perfected over a period of 8 years; he has studied law, business, electronics, computer science, criminal science, criminal justice, and music; I would soon realize how much of a genius he really was.

Chris made a comment that day in the coffee shop that stuck with me for years; he said that if you are paying for an education that you could have received at a public library, you are about as stupid as a box a manure. The only reason that he went to college was so that he would not draw any attention to himself. Chris took out a loan for $150,000 in his third year in college to start his business; his business was a traveling auctioneer.

At this point, I am thinking, you cannot make this shit up. I said to him jokingly, “This is grade A stuff man; if you are not going to write a story about it, I will!” His mercurial personality joined the conversation again; “I’ll just have to visit you at your home address of…”  … “Just kidding,” he says with a smirky smile. The fact that he knew my address was a bit freaky.

After considering bolting the hell out of there, I actually wanted to hear more of Chris’ Inner demons; I asked Chris how the hell he got away with 20 years of burglarizing homes and businesses, and making millions of dollars without his family or law enforcement ever catching up to him. Chris said very simply, “proper planning. I had three college degrees to plan and figure it out.”

Chris said he needed a way to funnel the money to remain underneath the radar of the federal government and more importantly his wife and family. He was well aware that his work would yield a great deal of cash deposits either directly or indirectly and that would definitely raise a flag with the IRS and his family. It was in Chris’ sixth year in business when he decided it was time to start making some money and show profitability; the original lenders were getting antsy for their $150,000 and interest earned. Chris said their sixth year in business, they made of 13 million dollars, and after 20 years, company net was over 700 million dollars; all of which was taxed down to the penny. If there was ever a point they were going to be audited by the IRS, they had to make sure that the business was a legit business paying taxes and keeping records. The last thing you want is the federal government knocking at your door asking you to bend over and take it like a man.

As described by Chris, the process of the business was pretty straightforward. His business was always out of state; he never conducted any business in his resident state. After completing a project, he would locate out-of-state estate, police, and public auctions; he would only bid on household items in lots (TVs, Stereo systems, game consoles, computers, jewelry, etc.). The total sale of a lot (typically 30-100 pieces per lot) would be some aggregate price of anywhere from $500 – $2000. He has conducted business in 42 states and conducted auctions in 37 states. The process of laundering the acquired goods was that the business would inventory the acquired goods into the auctions what were won. “We had a paper trail of buying and selling; we buy at $500, insert the acquired goods into the inventoried lot and resell the lot at $10,000; it was a flawless plan that worked over 20 years. I had a legitimate business and not one single employee had an idea of what was going while the business was in operation.”

I asked Chris the types of homes and businesses he would target, how he successfully completed these projects without being detected. Chris stated that, “humans are predictable; we go to our jobs, we go shopping, we go to the movies, we take family trips, we take our kids to soccer, baseball, and football practices and we do not think twice when it comes down to the simplicity of security.” Chris learned there is a window of opportunity of about an hour that a family will be away from home. All he needed was 15 minutes, and in some cases only 5 minutes depending on the type of house it was. Chris was very adamant in saying that it is all about patience and proper planning. He typically would scope out a business or house for a period a 2 weeks. He would study the family habits: when they would leave the house to go shopping, drop the kids off at school, what time they would go to work, what time they would go to bed, and what time they would get up in the morning. In addition, the same process is conducted for the neighbors; are the neighbors a threat, if so, how much of a threat are they?

Chris said he would exercise and lift weights everyday; he had to be in perfect shape. He said he could easily scale a second-story balcony and for greater heights, Chris said he used a commercial grade grappling hook and scale the exterior wall of the property. He was a master lock-picker and an expert at machinery work. In his heavy-duty backpack were some of the tools of the trade: center hole punch, drills, crowbar, bolt cutters, hammer, screwdrivers, hacksaw, Dremel tool, a portable blowtorch, a glass cutter, and a railroad pick. He said he would locate and rip safes from walls; Chris would acquire gold coins, gold jewelry, silver ingots, wedding rings, diamond-encrusted chokers, —whatever he can grab in the few minutes while he’s inside a house that had a value of over $500.00. Chris stated that he never would attempt to acquire any artwork or heirlooms (too risky). The most invaluable tool in his arsenal was a Radio Shack Police Scanner; this is the tool that allowed him to know when the police had been dispatched to his location.  Out of the 4500 or so successful projects that were completed over the 20 years in business, only 17 of the projects is where the police scanner actually came in handy; I was able to successfully escape being captured and/or arrested.

Chris said that he was always meticulous on the projects he targeted and planned; he would never choose a target that had only one way in and one way out of the property and/or neighborhood; there was always a plan B, and on larger projects, a plan C. He would take notes on how far local police stations were from the target, what doughnut shops the police hung out at, where did they eat lunch and/or dinner, where did they drink coffee and when did they conduct shift changes. Chris mentioned that he would never target a house or business that had a security alarm or video surveillance system; it was just too risky. There is an adrenaline rush, there are thrills with a challenge, but it is not why I did it; it is my career, it is how I provided for my family; I would never let adrenaline cloud my judgment.

X marks the spot! Your home is like buried treasure waiting to be discovered by a band of pirates. Chris mentioned it is imperative that homeowners understand they will be an “easy mark” if they do not take the necessary steps in protecting their home from a burglar. A burglar does not like to work in well lit areas, a burglar does not like to spend hours trying to break into a home or business, and most burglars will not attempt a burglary if they are forced into making a lot of noise; they will just move on to another target. Residential and Commercial property should have adequate external lighting; invest in proper motion activated floodlights for the front, side, and backside of your property. People think by having dogs and guns are their first line of defense over an alarm system; however, a dog can be easily exploited by a fat juicy steak. A gun is only useful if you are prepared; you need a way that will notify you in the event that the perimeter of your property has been infiltrated; this is where alarm systems come in handy. When you invest in a home security system, and I highly recommend that you do, invest into a home automation package. Most security companies will have modules that you can purchase as an additional feature to your security system that will give the homeowner the ability to control home appliances such as TVs, lights, and music by the use of their smartphone and/or schedules. You can kill two birds with one stone by utilizing a home automation package with your security system; any burglar if they are sane will move on to a target that is less of a headache.

It doesn’t take a genius to spend a little time “casing” your house, apartment or business. Role playing a burglar is entertaining and educating; case the perimeter of your property. You will want to locate the locations that are the easiest to break into the property. You literally have to ask yourself how you can make it burglar-resistant. First things first, trim the trees and shrubs that are in close proximity of your windows and doors; consider a trade-off of have a bit more security versus privacy. To protect yourself from bumpkey lock exploits, you will want to invest in solid lock-sets that have some type of SmartKey or BumpGuard Technology. This is the first method of exploiting a lock; if this fails, the professional will utilize a lock-pick set in attempt to pick your locks on your doors; with the last attempt of kicking in a door or breaking a window. Just remember, a burglar will always attempt an unauthorized entry by first opening a door or window, if it is unlock, you just made their job a whole lot easier.

Be friends with your neighbors, they come in handy when you and your family are planning a family vacation; ask them to pick up your mail, take out your garbage (Even if you have none), water your grass, or to keep an eye on your house while you are away. Also, if you are planning a family vacation, do NOT advertise that you are going away on any social media websites such as Facebook and/or Twitter. Social Media is another method that burglars will use to know when you are away. Furthermore, do NOT change anything inside or outside that would indicate that you are going away; if you normally leave your blinds open, do not close them, as that is another tell-tale sign that no one is home. Remember, a burglar is taking notes of your habits! One last piece of advice, if you are going to be away from home for a long period of time, contact your local police department and have them conduct a security check on your home while you are away; 99 percent of local police departments will do this free of charge.

As much as I wanted to continue listening to Chris’ story, I had to get going. He pulls out his wallet to pay for the bill. An $18.43 tab with an 18% gratuity, the total came out to be $21.75 ($21.7474 to be exact), he rounded up, not down; he did this all in his head in a matter of seconds with no pause in calculation. He kindly thanked me for my company and he went on his way; a few minutes later, as I started gathering my things from the table, I noticed that he left his wallet on the table. It only took a few seconds to realize that his wallet was my wallet.