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A cop, a writer and a whole lot more.

Here you'll find my thoughts on writing, links to my published works, law enforcement musings and other tidbits. Please subscribe to my blog and I encourage you to share anything you find worthy. Thanks!

Disclaimer: these are my opinions and mine alone. I am not speaking as a representative of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department in any shape or form here. These are not necessarily the opinions of my employer.

Las Vegas

Las Vegas

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Uncommon Thief

There was a burglar whose specialty was breaking into homes of the rich and famous. He had stolen untold treasures from the likes of world famous billionaire and philanthropist, Alfred E. Mann, and many others.

The criminal was caught and discovered to be a multiple-time convicted felon in his 30s. He'd already been to prison four times before. He knew his luck had run out and with his atrocious record, would likely face most of the rest of his life in prison.


We spoke at length one day at the jail while collecting a handwriting sample. I asked about his childhood. He raised a suspicious brow and asked, "Why do you care about that? You've got me; it doesn't really matter now."



"You're right," I said. "It's not going to change your circumstances, but I'd like to know how you ended up like this. I bet when you were a kid, you wanted to be something."


He paused and exhaled. "Dude, you don't know how long I've wanted to tell this story. But you're gonna think I'm crazy.


He told me how he grew up in "The Lakes" area of Las Vegas and came from a poor family. As a teenager, he used to ride his friend's bicycle around some of the man-made reservoirs that give that part of Las Vegas it's namesake. The custom homes that surround the shorelines are some of the most expensive in all of Nevada. But just a few blocks away, apartments with many tenants on government assistance reside.


This kid, turned hardened criminal, told me how he used to love riding around the bike path on the shoreline, imagining that he lived in one of the palatial homes. There was one home in particular that he was especially fond of with a park bench nearby where he would sit and imagine what it would be like to live in that big home. He imagined running down the stairs to open presents on Christmas morning. He wanted to jump off the diving board into the pool. He imagined his dad giving up alcohol and coming back to the family to live in their giant home.


"When I was bored and had nothing to do, sometimes I'd just sit on that bench and dream of the good life," he said.


His face soured as he said, "Then I started doing what I do now. I go out and steal from the rich to give to the rich while I get the scraps."


Most of his targets had been provided to him by the owner of a housekeeping company. The housekeepers would generate the intel, like where the safes are and when the homeowners would be gone.


"I got a call one night and he gave me an address and said there would be a ton of jewelry and maybe some gold bars. So I got a couple guys to help in case stuff was too heavy."


When he got to the house, he cut the phone line, disabling the alarm system. He waited nearly an hour to see if the police or alarm company guard would show up. Maybe the alarm had a cellular backup.


Nothing. The coast was clear.


After prying a rear door open, they were in. What a mountain of jewelry they found! Over half a million in jewelry and gold was taken.


The burglar's buddies were making noise and turning a few lights on in the house. He was afraid that maybe the neighbors would notice. The second floor balcony gave a perfect vantage to survey the neighbors and see if anyone was paying attention.


It was two in the morning and nobody was outside. Everything seemed fine. The cool air coming off of the man-made lake quenched some of the Las Vegas heat. He spotted a park bench underneath a light by a bike path. But this wasn't just any park bench.


"At that moment," he said, "I realized where I was. I was in the house I dreamed about when I was a kid. And I knew at that very moment that I was going to end up in prison for the rest of my life."


It took a few weeks for the police to figure out who did the burglary. They were able to tie him to the crime with some jewelry he was found to have in his possession.


Before I left the jail, the burglar told me he wished he knew when he was a kid what he knows now.


"What's that?" I said.


"No matter how much stuff you get, it's never enough," he said. "I've been chasing something all my life that I'll never catch. I wish I would've known that all I had to do was turn to God and let him catch me."


This wasn't the first time that I've witnessed a criminal have a "come to Jesus" moment, so my faith that he will live out his new found understanding isn't strong. But I do know that in Christ, all things are possible. Perhaps he might be able to pass that seed to someone in the fertile ground of prison, where broken people need something to free their souls and transform their lives.


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