An ex-burglar has left his crime life behind and joined a smart home security company as a consultant.
Luke Harris is now advising the company on how to keep their customers as safe as homes.
The 32-year-old financed his lifestyle by looting insecure homes for 12 years – and narrowly escaped prison.
Now Luke is making better use of his knowledge of breaking and intrusion by protecting people’s homes.
Since going straight five years ago, Luke from Warminster, Wiltshire, who is now in a steady relationship and has a daughter and a stepson, has held a variety of jobs, but took the opportunity to put his years of crime to good use – on the right side of the law – in its last role.
He applied after seeing a recruitment request from Edinburgh-based home security start-up, Boundary, who was specifically looking for a reformed burglar and said, “I remember seeing the vacancy and I was immediately intrigued, someone a little bit different ‘.
“After seeing that they were specifically looking for an ex-burglar, I really wanted to give it a try and applied.
“I didn’t think I would get it at first, but I really wanted it.”
And Luke’s criminal expertise gave him an edge over the other 50 applicants, landing the job that started this month.
Growing up in a stable family in the countryside outside of Bridport, Dorset, Luke was first lured into crime when he was only 12 years old by a pack of cigarettes.
He said, “I grew up in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by fields. I first got into crime looking for a cigarette as the nearest store was miles away and ended up breaking into my parents’ neighbors. “
“I knew they smoked and I really wanted cigarettes so I climbed in through a kitchen window to let myself in, but once I got in I couldn’t actually find any,” he added.
‘I think it was a naughty plot at first. I was brought up well to know right from wrong and not to be like that.
“I admitted the first few burglaries, including this one, shortly after, so the police were involved in my life from then on.”
When he left home at 15, the lack of rules soon made Luke exploit his newfound freedom to become more entrenched in a life of crime.
He said, “My life as a burglar was never inspired by drugs. Instead, at a young age I got the impression of having good money and, although it was wrong, I started living a lifestyle that I couldn’t afford if I had a regular job.
“I got used to spending a lot of money and living in the fast lane, so to speak. Every time I ran out of money, I broke into somewhere else. “
Despite being arrested several times, Luke was only convicted of his first burglary at a neighbor’s home, for which he was sentenced to community service.
He soon became a seasoned liar too. He said he would think “ forensically ” about his break-ins and make sure he always had a logical and credible story to explain why his DNA was found at the sites of his crimes.
He said, “I always knew I was going the wrong way, but I was good at being a burglar and I found it difficult to work in a ‘normal and civilized way.'”
“Standing up for a job had never worked for me in the past and school certainly didn’t work for me. My skill was to think outside the box – it still is, ”he said.
“Being a good burglar isn’t just about breaking into someone’s home. You need to think about the ‘what ifs’, such as leaving a fingerprint in one place and being picked up two weeks later. I needed to know how to explain why my DNA was where it was. “
Luke’s turning point eventually came after he broke into the home of someone who had died very recently.
He said, “I knew them, so I knew there was no one there and there was no family.
“The door wasn’t closed properly, so I went in and went through everything.”
Despite his departure with a substantial haul worth “thousands of pounds,” the despicable nature of his crime began to eat away Luke’s conscience.
After 12 years of continued crime, he found himself only 27 years old living alone, in a beaten up caravan on the side of the road – broke after spending all the proceeds from his ill-gotten gains.
“A very good friend told me that until I was 28 I had to get my life organized or they would never talk to me again,” he said.
‘Finally, that hit me home. It just rang in my ears and I had to admit to myself what I had done and that I had to redeem myself. “
“I lived in a destroyed caravan, full of holes, on the side of the road,” he went on.
“It rained for a weekend, so everything was completely damp.
“It was so miserable and I just broke down.”
Luke recalled, “I was tired of living like this. I wanted to change my life.
“Something clicked in me and I believed in that moment that I deserved to give myself a better life, away from crime.”
Determined to become a reformed character, Luke “ grabbed with both hands ” a friend’s offer to work as a cleaning lady in a Dorset pub.
“I haven’t looked back since then,” he said.
Once on the right track, Luke quickly advanced through the ranks, working behind the bar and as a chef at half a dozen pubs in Dorset and Somerset.
He also started a family with his partner, whom he wishes to remain anonymous, and in recent months has been looking for a new opportunity – a job that would enable him to give back after he “ hurt so many people. ” year. “
In September, he saw the advertisement for a position at Boundary and immediately applied.
He said: “Working in the kitchen at a pub is a chore, so I was looking online for jobs for ex-criminals. When I saw that Boundary was looking for a former burglar, I really wanted to give it a try and applied. “
A few weeks later, Luke found out that Boundary boss, Robin Knox, 33, was eager to hire him.
He said, “This is a great way for me to somehow correct the mistakes of my past.
“I am really proud that I was able to change my life and I am very grateful to people like Robin who are willing to see the person I am now, not the criminal I used to be, and who gave me a chance.
“It doesn’t make what I did better, but in 10 years time I hope to look back and see that I turned everything upside down and started helping people.”
Boundary CEO Robin Knox, 33, from Clackmannanshire, Scotland, said it made sense to hire someone with insider knowledge of house breaking to make his security systems more effective.
He said: “It’s not just about the technology you have in house, but how you behave. So, as a security company trying to prevent people from breaking into their properties, there is a whole host of advice Luke – as a former burglar – can give our clients.
“His deep-seated desire to leave his past behind and do something positive made him stand out to us – because he knows what he did was totally wrong and is now on track to rectify some of those mistakes.”