Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Interview with a Burglar

The burglar who uses taxis to collect him from break-ins

CONOR LALLY, Crime Correspondent
“I think I must have a bit of the kleptos in me; I’d rob anything,” says Ronny, a drug addict and by his own admission a serial burglar and robber in his late 30s, whose name has been changed for this piece.
He first got into trouble with the Garda before the age of 10, and more than 200 convictions and nearly three decades later he’s still “on the rob”. He says it’s common for people to leave substantial quantities of cash in their homes.
“You find it [cash] anywhere; under the bed, in a biscuit tin, a coffee jar. I got a roll of notes once in an ice cream box in the freezer; no ice cream in the f***ing thing, just cash. Sometimes they even leave it out on a counter . . . I don’t do old people’s gaffs, but if you do the money is always under the bed.”

Modern security features are not a major hindrance to breaking in, he says.
There’s no door or window you can’t get past with the tools; a Philips screwdriver, a jemmy bar, a hammer. When you get in, if the alarm goes off you’ve two or three minutes [to] fly around the gaff looking for the money. If you have a car with you and if the gaff is not in an estate, you might stay a bit longer; get the plasma , the PlayStation, Xbox, all the games and all that. If you don’t leave prints forget about it, the Garda’ll never get you.

If the gaff is a bit out in the country and the Garda station is miles away or closed down you have loads of time to load up the car if you have one. You just go up to a gaff, knock on the front door and if someone answers say you want a drink of water or water for the car. If nobody answers, just go round the back and get in.
“A couple of times . . . I called a taxi and got them to collect me at the gaff. You tell them you’re moving and you want to put a bit of gear in the car, the plasma and that. And when they come you put the gear in and they drive you off. They have to know what you’re up to; they’re not thick. But you pay them the fare; you might give them a few quid extra to keep their mouth shut.”
Ronny spoke to The Irish Times last week at a facility for homeless, drug addicted and alcoholic men. He says he needs to keep stealing to feed his drug habit. He describes himself as “a creeper as well as a burglar”.

You go into a cafe or a shop, whatever it is, looking for [shoppers’] bags for the purses, wallets or the iPhones. If you get one of the iPhones in a burglary or in a handbag, that’s €100 you’ll get for that. If you do a gaff and you get an iPad, you’re looking at €200. You can sell them in dodgy little phone shops cos they’ll clean them up and get even more for them. Sometimes if they know you’re really strung out they’ll offer you less money. They’re bastards they are.”
Ronny insists he is not without some sympathy for those who houses he breaks into, adding that at present burglary is a big lure for petty criminals. “Course I’d have a bit of sympathy – you’re robbing their stuff, man. You’re going into their gaff and just taking it so, yeah, you might think of them a bit. But you just get in and out.
You’re looking for money and jewellery; just get the cash . . . You can sell the jewellery, you’d sell it anywhere. Moorcroft bowls are a big seller as well. Just go up to Ballymun or somewhere. There’s loads of people up there owe money to the credit union or the loan sharks. You bring something up there that they know they’ll never be able to get unless they buy it from you at a knock-down price and they’ll give you money for it, f***ing sure they will.”
While he says organised criminals and those who work in groups will plan burglaries and carefully select targets, his crimes are more opportunistic and spur-of-the-moment.
“You know the places; Foxrock, Blackrock, Monkstown, Dún Laoghaire, all over there. You never rob in your own area. You never rob from the working class area you’re from; no way. If they catch you doing it they’ll break you up or they’ll cut you up.

“Take Ballymun, even. It’s right beside Santry; it’s only a wall between the two of them. The burglars do be saying, ‘Come on, they’re all bleedin’ loaded in Santry.’ But they’re probably not, man. But you go up there anyway to try and get a bit of money.
“If it’s old windows in a house you just pop them open. If it’s new windows it’s harder, but you just use a jemmy bar and get the door or the window popped open, you’ll do it if you pull hard enough. The sliding patio doors around the back, you just bust the lock with a screwdriver, something like that. And once it moves you just lift the sliding door off the rails. You lift it and lean it against the wall beside you, real quiet. ‘Thank you very much, in ya go.’”

Ronny began thieving when he was “five or six”, he says. “Me Ma left me with her best friend to look after me, then her best friend was stabbed to death – I seen it happening. Then I stayed in that house with the other people from the family. They’d have me wheeling shopping out of the shopping centre without paying, food and all that stuff. I was about five or six.
“Then when I got a bit older, you’d go into the shops and have a competition; see who can rob the most cans of Impulse. You’d be putting them down your tracksuit legs, up your sleeves, everywhere. You’d come out and everyone would count them all up to see who won. The winner got, well the winner got nothing, but you could say ‘I got the most cans of Impulse’. Stupid when you think about it.”

He says despite spending time in prison many times for crimes including burglary and dealing drugs, he has never reformed. “Since I seen my Ma’s mate getting stabbed to death my life has been a disaster, chaos . . . One place after another as a kid, all over the place.
“The people who help me in court now, some of them were around when I was only 10 or less, more than 20 or 30 years ago; they were in the Children’s Court then trying to look after you. I was JLO’d hundreds of times.
“I never knew me Da, never seen him, don’t know who he is. At first I used to be robbing for the people I was living with, then for drink for meself, for a long time for drink. Now it’s the drugs, this ages; burgling for it, ya know?”


. said...

Ach. I feel badly for the victims, but also for this guy. A screwed up childhood from the beginning.

Now, I'm not saying that he's innocent, or that someone wouldn't be within his rights to take a bat to him if he was stealing his stuff, but I am human enough to recognize that there but for the grace of God go any of us.

Totalinvestor said...

I guess crime does pay.
I don`t worry too much about these petty thieves, they might steal $100 and move on. It`s the 1% in government and the corporate elite that are stealing trillions of dollars worldwide and our freedoms that we need to worry about.

Anonymous said...

As a thief this guy ain't that bad. But it goes to show you how one experience of gross violence can scar you for life.

Anonymous said...

People think property crime is "insignificant."

What is property, but concentrated life? You toil away hours and years of your life to obtain food, shelter, and if there's something left over, stuff you like or you accumulate savings.

Then some animal comes to take it from you. He's taking the hours of your life you committed to acquiring that stuff, that money.

Fractional theft of life, as such, is morally fractional murder.

There was a reason horse thieves were once hung by the neck until dead.

Anonymous said...

Where I live most people own guns and keep them loaded in the house. Certainly there are burgulars still but they cannot afford to be as careless and prolific as this guy. Moral is success as a burgular is greater in a country with strict gun laws.

Anonymous said...

Gun laws have nothing to do with it.

If you had read the piece you would know the guy said he always checks to make sure no one is home. The guns aren't going to jump up and shoot him on their own. So they have no deterrent effect at all.

But whatever, if you feel so great about your gun superiority, then good for you.

Anonymous said...

Indeed he said he checks to see if no one is at home. But more then one thief has been wrong about this. Perhaps your experience isn't adequate to understand that. Interestingly where I am sitting right now I could not hear a knock on my front door but I can reach out and touch my gun without getting up. Most thiefs are drug users and their skills take a back seat to the monkey on their back. Sooner or later a thief makes that last mistake.

C H Ingoldby said...

I'm surprised by the sympathetic response to this criminals actions.

Breaking into peoples homes, taking their savings, property and peace of mind is a foul crime.

I don't care how hard an upbringing he has had, his actions bring pain and misery to hundreds of people. He doesn't need a hug to make him change his ways, he needs harsh punishment.

Larry said...

I never answer the door unless it's someone I want to talk to; my neighbor, Fed Ex, police, etc. If someone knocks, I can see who it is from an upstairs window without them seeing me. Why open myself up to a home invasion (those who kick the door in when someone answers the door) for someone who's most likely soliciting tree trimming services?

If it's a burgler thinking my house is empty, that's his mistake, not mine.

Scanning who is at the door beforehand gives me space and time if their motives are less than honorable.

Anonymous said...

I came to this website for the first time today...after a web search about economic collapse etc...and the coincidence is that not only do i live in Dublin, but I also live in one of the well off suburbs mentioned...not that i am well off however.
In this country crime is not taken seriously by the so called, law of the land. And as pointed out by the burglars story.. many people in the developed world are born into third world conditions so an economic collapse wont make much difference to lots of people already well used to living on the edge.