Every year I read thousands of burglary reports and articles, but today I’ll share one that stands out for being highly unusual. Here the intruder was not just a serial burglar: he was a survivalist, living off the land but mostly from whatever he could steal from camps and cabins in rural Maine for 27 years. Now he’s been apprehended, as described in this report from Kennebec County in central Maine.
He escaped civilization in 1986, but had to steal from it to survive: packaged food, clothes. Officials said locals used to put supplies out on their porches for him so at least the North Pond hermit wouldn’t enter their homes. That must have been fine for him. Maine winters are unforgiving, yet he seemed to fear attention more than the cold.
Life Off the Grid
He always traveled at night so no one would see him. He piled on sleeping bags instead of starting fires. It worked. He said he had not been sick in 27 years. There was no one to get him sick. “The only words that he’d spoken to another person in 27 years,” Doug Rafferty, spokesman for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, told the Los Angeles Times, “was when he said ‘Hi, how are you’ to a guy on another trail that he was walking.” That was in the 1990s.
That changed last week. Christopher Knight, 47, was snatched from solitude and arrested last Thursday on suspicion of hundreds and hundreds of burglaries over the years — quiet capers that officials believe he’d made so he could survive the woods near Rome, Maine. He was caught in the act of raiding a local camp’s pantry in the middle of the night, officials said.
How They Caught Him
A game warden who had heard the reports of someone stealing food set up sensors normally used to watch the state’s long border with Canada. Last week, the warden was alerted to a break-in in the middle of the night, saw Knight in the camp’s kitchen with a light, and arrested him when he came outside, officials said. “There had been stories about a hermit in that area for quite some time,” Rafferty said. “I think it was probably four, five years ago when game cameras first became popular — you leave those up — we got a couple pictures of him back then.”
Knight’s hideaway was so carefully placed that it precluded discovery. His camp was only two or three tenths of a mile into the woods, but it was in such a location that you had to walk to it in order to even see it. The game warden Hughes told the Morning Sentinel that Knight appeared to have been taking the exact same steps on the exact same trails for decades. “He didn’t move all winter,” Hughes. “He was adamant that he wouldn’t leave his campsite in the winter because he didn’t want to be tracked back to his location. So I said, ‘Well, what did you do all winter? How did you spend your day?’ He said, ‘I would read books,’ he said, ‘and I would meditate.’ ”
Serial Burglar – Big Time
Knight apparently did not hunt or fish, saying it took too much energy. Instead, officials think Knight committed more than 1,000 burglaries to sustain himself, for which Knight has now triggered a large investigation. After his arrest, he was being held on $5,000 bond. “Just a random thought: This was the Unabomber, but he wasn’t bombing,” Rafferty said, referring to Theodore Kaczynski, a math-genius-turned-recluse-turned-ecoterrorist in Montana. “He was literally that far off the grid, and in fact, probably farther than Ted Kaczynski was.” He added, “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
I’m going to assume that at least some of these hundreds of cabins had electricity, which is really all you need to support an up-to-date alarm system: especially one based on safer cellular monitoring, where no phone is required (and there’s no phone line for a burglar to cut). Does this article strengthen the case for monitored home security as a way to protect your property? FrontPoint thinks that is indeed the case. You deserve your peace of mind: we already know that a home (or second home or cabin) protected by a monitored alarm system is far less likely to suffer an intrusion, so it just makes sense to make the modest investment.
FrontPoint is on the job with systems that are safer, smarter, simpler, and more affordable. As the leader in wireless home security and the #1 rated alarm company in the US, FrontPoint takes residential intrusion very seriously, whether it’s the usual random offense by an amateur burglar, or one of a string of break-ins committed by the survivalist serial burglar described above. Either way, you want the odds on your side.