Burglary Secrets From a Career Criminal - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Burglary Secrets From a Career Criminal

Dallas police hope jailhouse interview will prevent future crime



    Police hope a jailhouse interview can help homeowners avoid being burglarized. (Published Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010)

    Dallas police are airing a videotaped confession of a career burglar in hopes of educating homeowners in far North Dallas.

    An area off Beltline Road between Hillcrest and Preston roads has had as many as 12 break-ins, investigators said.

    But police say they hope an old jailhouse interview with James Butters will give homeowners new tools to fight crime. Butters, who broke into 850 homes -- four burglaries per day, six days per week -- agreed to the interview several years ago.

    “I think in this particular case, James had committed so many offenses that he was willing to talk about some of the things he had done and wanted to try and make things right,” Deputy Chief Jesse Reyes said. ”It’s good for people to learn what makes their houses vulnerable."

    Butters, who targeted homeowners in North Dallas, Richardson and Plano, said he almost always entered through the front or back door between the hours of 8 a.m. and 11 a.m.

    “I work the same hours as you do,” Butters said in the interview.

    “I take off for lunch, because people take off for lunch," he said. "I’ll go to work at 8 o’clock in the morning, and 11 o’clock is the latest I’ll pull a burglary."

    He followed delivery drivers to figure out who was home and who wasn't, and said his job was easy once he was inside.

    “Normally, people keep the same items in the same place,” he said in the interview. “There's going to be a jewelry box on top of the dresser. If it's not there, it may be in the bathroom closet.”

    Butters said if it wasn't there, jewelry was under the bed or in the top dresser drawer.

    He said guns were under the mattress or in the closet, and cash was under knickknacks or on top of the dresser.

    His advice to keep your home safe -- even from an experienced burglar such as himself -- was to "close your blinds, close your curtains, leave the stereo on."

    “The best protection you can have if you don't have an alarm is a dog," he said in the interview. "A burglar will not mess with you if you've got a dog.”

    Butters said he also avoided neighborhoods that tended to have nosy neighbors. When someone came out to see what he was doing, he said he left and never returned.

    Butters was released from prison this summer and is believed to be living somewhere in the Tyler area. Police said they don’t believe he has any connection to the recent string of break-ins in far North Dallas.