BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - After the WBRC FOX6 burglar survey, an inmate contacted us offering his experience with breaking into cars and homes.
He was interviewed from prison. His identity is concealed to protect him and his victims.
After serving over 11 years in prison for crimes including second degree robbery, second degree burglary, and breaking into cars, among others, he's ready to talk.
"I might be able to help someone out there and repay some of the things that I did," he explained. "I hurt a lot of people."
He estimates he broke into thousands of cars to steal loose change left in the open. He would make hundreds of dollars in a single night collecting the quarters, nickels, and dimes, he said.
Many of the cars were left unlocked, and if they were locked, he typically wouldn't shatter a window or force a door open unless something valuable was left in the open.
"Lock your doors, lock your doors. If you've got anything valuable, put it out of sight because there is someone out there that will try to steal it."
This inmate estimates he's broken into 50 houses.
"Generally, people get to feeling safe because they are in nice neighborhoods. And you should never get to feeling like that," he said.
The inmate said he looked for empty homes, like when kids were at school and adults were at work, or when homes had mail pouring out of mailboxes and empty trash cans waiting at the end of the drive way.
He estimates that not many burglars know how to pick locks. Instead, they target doors and windows that can be forced or pried open.
"We get customers often that come into the store and ask about [home security] at least one to two times a day," explained Brad Sloan, Assistant Store Manager at Lowe's in Inverness. Sloan's store offers a wide variety of home security products, including inexpensive door and window reinforcements available for a few dollars.
The inmate specifically points out sliding glass doors, saying the locks are easily compromised. But, Sloan demonstrates how a steel bar can be inserted into the track to prevent the door from sliding open.
"Neighborhood watches are awesome," said the inmate. "If you bumped into a neighborhood watch, that would definitely be an indication to get away from that place." Like 41 percent of the inmates who responded the survey, he agrees that other people nearby will deter a burglary.
This inmate says he hopes his insight is a small step toward paying for his crimes, and helping you protect your home.
He's also hoping to reach another group of people – young people who might be making the same mistakes he did.
"You get to feeling like you've gone too far, like there's no turning back, like there's no room for the things you've done, no one is ever going to accept you. And I just want them to know that's a lie. I feel like that's the devil; I feel like, it's never too late to change. And I feel like there's something you can do to pay back for all the things you've done."