5.11.19 – 11Alive.com WXIA- ATLANTA Atticus Investigates
Criminals confess how they get out with guns, jewelry and other personal items.
You may be signaling thieves without even knowing it.
Criminals are figuring out how to crack makeshift safety measures many people believe keeps their home protected.
That National Rifle Association (NRA) sticker on the door that once deterred burglars is now often viewed as a clue that valuable guns are in the home for the taking.
Every 22 seconds, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) gets another report of a break-in, according to its crime tracker.
Kimberly Sullins is a convicted criminal who has been caught breaking into homes.
“We took guns, games, a lot of personal items, jewelry,” she said from inside the Habersham County Detention Facility in Georgia.
Sullins said she broke in the door to the house.
“It was forceful. We tore the lock off,” she recalled.
The safest locks have a dead bolt and a metal plate inside the door frame to make it harder to pry open.
However, the front door isn’t the only way criminals know a home is an easy target for a burglary.
“We looked in the windows and their cars weren’t there,” Sullins said.
There are ways to offset this giveaway to criminals:
- Make it look like someone is at home by covering your windows and pulling down the shades.
- Leave music playing or keep the television on when you’re away.
- Notify neighbors when you’ll be gone.
- Leave your car at home if possible.
In a poll of 86 burglars, many said security cameras are usually a deterrent, but the cameras could also signal you have valuables worth taking. Most intruders said they would leave immediately if a security alarm went off.
Burglars prefer breaking in early morning or afternoon. And most burglars started by searching the master bedroom for valuables, then moved through the rest of the house.
Outside, you can use motion lights and light timers scare off potential burglars. It helps give off the appearance that someone is always home.
All of the inmates who responded said they would knock on the front door before breaking in.
Just ask Tina Roach, who is serving time for breaking in to a camper. She says if the door had been locked, “I wouldn’t have gone in.”
We interviewed 8 convicted criminals and learned they all shared one thing in common
We wrote to more than 100 inmates to ask how they committed common crimes. They told us what they looked for before targeting a home or vehicle. Then we learned something else.
Every person we interviewed on camera brought us a similar struggle.
They revealed a personal battle with addiction.
“I’m a heroin addict,” explained Crystal Osborne. “This is my third time being incarcerated. I’ll do good for a while and then relapse and just lose control when I get strung out.”
She’s serving time in the Casey County Detention Facility in Kentucky for stealing money from her stepfather. She says her drug use is what motivated her to write checks on his account.
“It ruined my life. It’s ruined my children’s life,” she said.
More than half of all state prisoners nationwide have a history of drug abuse, according to the Department of Justice.
“Just stay off drugs,” warned Manaki Pendleton, “They take you down the path. I’ve lost my kids, my home, my family, my life over drugs.”
All eight inmates who spoke to us feel that drug use led them to crime.
“You’re in here with criminals,” Pendleton said. “A lot of them still think about getting high. Then you think, ‘no, that’s what got me here to begin with.'”
Nationwide, two out of every three convicted inmates meet the criteria for drug dependency or abuse.
“I don’t normally steal, but if that helped me to get my next fix then I did it,” explained Danielle Shelton.
She’s serving time after breaking into a car at a repair shop.
“That was probably one of the worst things I’ve ever done. I stole from some random person that I don’t even know,” she said. “It wasn’t even worth it. I didn’t get the fix I needed. I didn’t get better.”
She says she could serve 10 years for her charges.
“I just want my victim to know that I’m sorry. And I want my children to know that I’m sorry, and I love them,” she added.