I'm an ex-burglar who raided 20,000 homes but now I'm teaching future coppers how to catch people like me

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Darryl Kennedy raided 20,000 homes and was banged up four times.

A reformed professional burglar who has raided 20,000 homes is now teaching criminology and police students his old tricks to help prevent future crimes.

Darryl Kennedy, 61, started breaking and entering aged just nine - and has been banged up four times. He says he is now on the straight and narrow after 41 years of targeting the rich and famous - swiping diamonds and jewels before leaving without a trace.

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The former crook served five years in prison for a string of 140 high-value robberies in Cheshire, before his release in 2019. Now he's been enlisted by several universities - including University of Salford and University of Cumbria - to give deliver lectures to the next generation of coppers on how to catch cat burglars like him.

He teaches students his golden rules from his past - such as how he would avoid open plan houses, look out for low-quality window frames, and make a beeline for the master bedroom where the jewellery would always be.

Ex-con Darryl Kennedy who is now helping teach the next generation of policeEx-con Darryl Kennedy who is now helping teach the next generation of police
Ex-con Darryl Kennedy who is now helping teach the next generation of police | Matthew Lofthouse / SWNS

Darryl, from Salford, said he can't take back his criminal past, but hopes he can prevent future crimes. The father-of-four said: "I decided I needed to change when I realised I wasted 41 years of my life committing crimes.

"Now I want to prevent other people being burgled. So many of the 'security experts' out there miss lots of details - they don't seem to have a clue. But I do - and I'll tell the whole truth. I'll admit what I've done - I don't mind if people don't like me."

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Darryl says he began when his dad would take him out in the car and teach him how to burgle homes. He developed a global reputation as a notorious cat burglar and even headed up a professional burglary gang, targeting up to 15 homes a day. He was jailed three times before his final stint in prison, and has lived a crime-free life ever since.

In 2023 he was recruited by a lecturer at University of Central Lancashire to deliver lectures on deterring and catching crooks - and has now spoken on the subject at four other universities too. So far he has taught more than 1,000 trainee police officers and criminology students in the North of England.

He said: "I tell them the aspects of what I did in that period of time, on areas that are vulnerable and the kind of targets I used to go for and houses I would be attracted to. Things like, I would be attracted to houses at the ends of streets, and ones with tree-lined fences. My lectures get good feedback and they ask loads of questions. I don't mind telling the truth, I admit what I've done."

Darryl Kennedy now gives advice to people to protect their homesDarryl Kennedy now gives advice to people to protect their homes
Darryl Kennedy now gives advice to people to protect their homes | Matthew Lofthouse / SWNS

He also goes into prisons and speaks to offenders through social enterprise Entrepreneurs Unlocked, for which he is an ambassador. He said: "I got to a point where I realised I needed to turn my life around, and now I want to help other people do that."

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Darryl has been working with security companies like DeterTech, to promote products which would have deterred him like advertising if their home has been tagged with SmartWater, a traceable liquid applied to valuables which can identify the thief after being stolen. And he plans to begin visiting primary and secondary schools to encourage youngsters to pick the right path in life.

Reflecting on his journey, he said: "I still think about my victims all the time. A life of crime leaves a trail of a lot of devastated people and you have to live with that.

"People always ask me if I have one last job left in me, but the answer is no, never ever. I wouldn't dream of going back to that. When I was an active criminal, I never used to sleep well because I feared a knock on the door. Now I've changed it's the best feeling in the world."

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