Reformed burglar offers tips on keeping your home safe

Reformed burglar offers tips on keeping your home safe

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"Michael" says he's a changed man, far removed from his previous life, when breaking into homes was his career choice. "Michael" says he's a changed man, far removed from his previous life, when breaking into homes was his career choice.
Amanda, who doesn't want to reveal her last name, says she still doesn't feel safe after a break-in at her home. Amanda, who doesn't want to reveal her last name, says she still doesn't feel safe after a break-in at her home.
Her husband Bobby managed to scare away the intruder before anything was stolen, or worse. Her husband Bobby managed to scare away the intruder before anything was stolen, or worse.
Sergeant Kelly Tanner with Knoxville Police Department's Safety Education Unit came out to give Amanda and Bobby a free home assessment to better arm them against break-ins. Sergeant Kelly Tanner with Knoxville Police Department's Safety Education Unit came out to give Amanda and Bobby a free home assessment to better arm them against break-ins.
Sgt. Kelly Tanner recommends basic but important things:add a light bulb to the porch fixture and attach floodlights to each corner of the home. Sgt. Kelly Tanner recommends basic but important things:add a light bulb to the porch fixture and attach floodlights to each corner of the home.

By LORI TUCKER
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Home break-ins happen every 15 seconds. The easier you make it, the better for the burglar.

A reformed criminal recently sat down with 6 News to share what to do to keep someone like him away.

"Michael" asked that we conceal his identity.

He says he's a changed man, far removed from his previous life, when breaking into homes was his career choice.

"Really, robbing and stealing takes a lot, so I was already working. That was what I believed," he said.

He broke into so many homes he lost count and did it for fast money to buy drugs.

Michael now says he's been clean, sober and crime free for nine years.

Meanwhile, a Knoxville couple is reeling from a recent break-in at their home.

Amanda, who doesn't want to reveal her last name, says she still doesn't feel safe.

Someone recently made his or her way up to the front porch, past the security company sign, through the door, even knocking out the door knob.

The suspect showed up in the master bedroom.

"I said you need to get the 'blank' out of my house," recounted Amanda's husband Bobby.

Bobby managed to scare away the intruder before anything was stolen, or worse.

Michael is relieved he was never confronted by homeowners.

"I'm very grateful for that, because I honestly don't know what I would've done."

Sergeant Kelly Tanner with Knoxville Police Department's Safety Education Unit came out to give Amanda and Bobby a free home assessment to better arm them against break-ins.

He recommends basic but important things:add a light bulb to the porch fixture and attach floodlights to each corner of the home.

Former criminal Michael used to drive around at night, looking into people's windows.

"So many of us leave our blinds and curtains open, " he said. "And with the light, yes, you can see out. I can definitely see in. And I know right where your stuff is sitting."

Bobby and Amanda learned that their window AC units could offer easy access inside. They also learned they need to fortify exterior hollow doors.

"A better alternative, " advises Sgt. Tanner, "perhaps would be a steel door."

Another entry to the home is the basement or crawl space. Michael says he looked for lawn mowers and tools, which are easy items to unload for a quick buck.

"You search, you grab, you leave," said Michael.

Your best bet is to make it as tough as possible for anyone to get into your home if you don't want them there.

The more time it takes, the better the chance they'll move on.

Confessions of a Burglar

Michael shared a to-do list every homeowner should pay attention to:

  • Use a small wooden dowel to secure windows and sliding glass doors.
  • Close curtains or blinds when getting exterior work done on your home, such as roofing and siding.
  • Ask a contractor to provide portable restrooms for outside jobs, or have maps to closest gas station.
  • When getting interior work, close doors to rooms that are not part of the repair.
  • Instead of a lock box for your valuables, store all jewelry, family heirlooms, and documents in a safe deposit box at your bank.
  • Video or photograph your valuables, and keep a list of serial numbers in your safe deposit box.
  • Close curtains and blinds at night. Potential burglars can not only see what you have in your home  they can often pinpoint where light switches are.
  • Lock crawl spaces and shed doors. Put tools and lawn mowers away immediately after use.
  • Shut the garage doors at all times, even when you are home. It only takes a few seconds to run in and grab expensive tools or items from your vehicles.
  • Install outside motion lights at each corner of your home.
  • Do not use geo-location on Facebook or show pictures of expensive gifts you've just received on social media.

To schedule a free home safety inspection by an officer with the Knoxville Police Department, call (865) 215-1510.

Offices, however, advise to be patient. KPD's Safety Education Unit gets a lot of requests.

Outside Knoxville, call your local police department or sheriff's office for more information.

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