In his latest book, A Burglar’s Guide to the City, architecture expert Geoff Manaugh of BLDGBLOG explores everyday spaces through the lens of criminals and criminologists, unearthing uncanny stories at the intersection of buildings and crime. The book is filled with subjects ranging from urban guerrilla warfare strategies to the work of theory-minded architects.
Jeffrey Manchester, AKA Roofman, was a burglar responsible for dozens of break-ins and hold-ups, primarily at fast-food joints. His signature strategy was to drop down into establishments from above, catching workers and managers unawares. This approach worked precisely because of an architectural flaw in the system: nearly identical structures used by chains make each theft quite like the last, so each incursion doubled as a practice round for the next.
When he was finally captured, Roofman’s secret lair turned out to be a customized void between a Toys”R”Us store and an adjacent abandoned Circuit City. He outfitted his abode with working plumbing and electricity, using baby monitors from the Toys”R”Us to monitor employee activity.