How they rob you: A home burglar’s first-person perspective

Charles Collier_241991

(WKRG) – Charles Collier knows what it takes to be a good burglar. He is one.

“9 times out of 10, a good burglar is not going to take someone with him,” Collier tells us. “I started hanging out with the wrong crowd and was taught how to do it and get away with it. And, it was very very prosperous.”

He knows exactly what to look for when he pulls up to your house, checking the cars you left parked in the driveway to determine if you’re alseep.

“You check the hood. See, if it’s still warm, that means they just got home from work. If It’s good and cold, they’re probably  sleeping. There [are] lots of different signs you can look for. “

Collier knows how to turn your watchdog into his best friend.

” They  [good burglars] are going to feed your pet and make it fall in love with them,” Collier explains. “I have actually done that before. [I] brought food with me, fed the animal so it wouldn’t bark at me.”

Collier hasn’t always walked down this road. “I’ll be honest with you, when I started burglarizing, I was probably 40 years old. Now I’m 43,” Collier said,  adding that the groundwork for his criminal spree started a few years before his first crime.”

“I was married for a long time. [I] had three wonderful children, got divorced and depressed. It was right at the recession.  I was trying to find work as a handicap, and it was hard. I’m a fisherman. The fishermen business got very bad and I started drinking heavy.”

Drinking escalated to drugs which led to desperation to find some way to fund his addiction.

“Being a drug addict and alcoholic, it’s easy to feed your addiction by trading. You go to the drug man, swap your merchandise,” Collier explains. “Therefore you’re not selling it or taking it to pawn shops. That’s how you can feed your addiction without getting caught. When you take these belongings to the drug man, he has ways of making it disappear easy.”

Collier started out by robbing somebody he already knew and didn’t like.

” I actually went in this man’s home while he was gone. Actually cooked me a steak meal so they knew that somebody felt comfortable in their home. I watched a movie. I drank his liquor.” Collier recalls.

When he went to the back of the house to crack open the man’s  safe, he couldn’t figure out the combination.

“Most of the time, people use a combination  that’s something they know real good,” Collier said. “When I was in his backyard, I noticed a little tombstone for a pet they had. I first tried their address, and it wouldn’t work. Then I tried the date of their dog’s death and it cracked the safe. I said ‘oh my goodness!’ The Jewelry and the cash [were] unbelievable.”

As the safe cracked open, so did a new addiction.

“I became addicted to burglarizing. It was a high. It’s kind of like meth addicts who cook the dope. They become more high to making the drug than actually using it,” Collier describes.

It didn’t take him long to figure out what times were best to head out.

“I would head out between 1 and 4 in the morning. People sleep the hardest then,” Collier said.

And, he soon figured out what neighborhoods would benefit him the most. He found that wealthier subdivisions had better merchandise, but stricter security systems. Poorer neighboods might be easier for you to escape from, but you wouldn’t get much.

“I would actually go for like a middle-class  neighborhood where there’d be real nice homes and then smaller class homes. That way when you traveling through yards, and you’re coming up on that big house, you don’t want to be in somebody else’s yard  that has security lights, good dogs…things like that. You want to be able to escape quickly.”

Escaping wasn’t always easy. Obviously, that’s why we talked to Collier from inside Metro Jail.

” I got sloppy you see,” Collier said. “I hate that I victimized people because at one time I was that person, working hard for what I had and to have someone break into my shed and steal my lawnmower or my weed eater….. Now looking back at it sober, I look at it with a different mindset. “

Collier speaks to us while he waits for the state van to haul him off to prison, convicted of the crime he  nearly perfected to fund his addiction.

“This time’s going to be different because I’m going to make it different,” Collier says. ” I’m going to be okay this time. If I tell myself I’m not, then I might as well  leave here and go straight to burglarizing again because I will.”

While it won’t change his fate, the story he shared might change yours; thinking more like a criminal might help you prevent falling victim to one.

Speaking of victims, you may recall our 5-part series, ‘Don’t Be A Victim,” that aired in November. Throughout the series, we gave you reality-based advice to better protect you against someone like Collier breaking into your home, or criminals you may encounter on the street.You can catch all 5 parts HERE:






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