Reformed offender joins our campaign
PUBLISHED: 06:33 05 November 2011 | UPDATED: 10:56 05 November 2011
He committed his first burglary in 1987 and his last in 2004, spending a total of 10 years behind bars for sentences received for 15 convictions.
But at 37-years old the former burglar, who does not want to be named, has long-since turned his back on his criminal past and is looking to have a more positive future.
The reformed crook, who we will refer to as James, not his real name, hopes to work with the police and probation service in the future to help get the message across that crime really does not pay.
James said: “When I came out after I did my 2004 sentence the police and probation had got together and did quite a good thing.
“They came up with a scheme which tried to turn people’s lives around and try and get them to stop committing crime.”
The scheme, which stopped him going out at night and included random drugs tests, has helped give him a fresh outlook on life and how his crimes affected others.
James was able to take on board a lot of the advice he was given and is now looking to move his life on and is in a long-term relationship with a woman he had been with before but split up with after his criminal ways took their toll.
He said: “I think I just got to a point where I had a place by myself and then I got a girlfriend. She was with me before when I was committing the burglaries, but she’s been a massive influence on me as well.
“She’s the same girlfriend I was with when I went to prison in 2004. I treated her in a different way back then. I used to pick her up and put her down when I wanted to. She left me when I went into prison and I don’t blame her for that.
“But when I came out I went to see her. She could see there was something different about me that had changed and decided to give me another go.”
James said their relationship has helped him want to change his ways and help others in the future which is part of the reason he was keen to support the Evening News’s Beat the Burglar campaign.
The campaign has seen the likes of PC Gail Kevern, force crime prevention co-ordinator at Norfolk police, giving advice about how to avoid becoming a victim of burglary.
James has come up with a number of tips to try and give householders in the city an idea of things they should be looking out for in terms of not becoming victims of crime.
James, who burgled during the day when “things were pretty desperate in my life”, said he would look for signs like cars in the drive to gauge whether people were in or not.
He would also approach the front door and knock to see if anyone answered before looking to see if it was a property that might be ripe for burgling.
In terms of venturing out at night, James said he would look for “lights out” which would suggest the house was empty and urged householders to get lights that come on when people are present fitted to the property. He also suggested it was a good idea to have timer devices which ensured radios and TVs came on.
However James did warn that burglars were aware of many of the advances in technology that are designed at keeping criminals at bay.
He said burglar alarms were always a good idea, but recommended real ones as opposed to cheaper mock alternatives because many burglars knew the difference between an active alarm and a fake.
James said burglars did have the knowhow and tools to disable some alarm systems, but would need time and the cover of darkness to do this meaning busy city locations with a burglar alarm were less likely to be targeted.
He praised the alley-gating system in parts of the city, including the Golden Triangle, which meant burglars did not have access to alleys leading to the rear of properties.
You can report any information or suspicious activity, people or vehicles to police via the non emergency number 101 or by calling Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.