Convicted robber educating youth about his mistakes

Sam Schmucker was recently released from jail after serving a sentence for robbery.
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A former career criminal who says he's turned his life around is sharing an important message to prevent you from becoming a crime victim.

Sam Schmucker was caught years ago, after being recognized in surveillance photos seen on Channel 13.

It's been awhile since Schmucker could enjoy the outdoors. For the past five years, he's been behind bars in Miami County. Now, when he looks at his mug shot, all Schmucker can say, is "I was an idiot."

Schmucker was caught on camera committing a string of car, home and business burglaries in Greenwood. Several of the more than 15 thefts were captured on surveillance.

That video, shown on Eyewitness News in 2008, also led to his capture.

His mom saw it. He saw it. Viewers did too, tipping off police the very next day and sending Schmucker to jail.

Five years later, Schmucker is out on probation and home detention. He says he's reformed from a life of crime. He voluntarily took classes and counseling in prison. He's about to begin coursework at Ivy Tech, to work toward a welding degree.

Schmucker also plans to talk to at-risk youth, to keep them from becoming what he was.

"If they're adults and get a felony, it's too late. It's almost like your life is over. Change, because if you don't, you're gonna lose your family, you're gonna lose your freedom and you're gonna be lonely for the rest of your life," Schmucker said.

As one part of that mission to change, Sam wanted to share with Eyewitness News exactly how he targeted cars and homes when he was a criminal, so that you don't become a victim of one.

"If it's unlocked, that's when I'd hit. I don't break into the cars. I found them unlocked," Schmucker explained. "And if you noticed on the surveillance at the house, I was looking in the cars and then when I seen what I wanted I went into it."

He said he spent two minutes tops in those cars and garages and always looked for easy targets.

"Purses, wallets, GPS, anything that's just sitting in the car that I can snatch and grab. There's people like me out here that still do it and don't care, haven't been caught," Schmucker said.

He says the three most important things you can do to keep thieves from picking your home or car:

  • Close your garage door
  • Lock your car doors
  • Stow away valuables

Schmucker says he hopes hearing that common sense advice from a former career criminal will prevent further victims. He's also pledged to put family first now and put his former life in the past.

"A life of crime's not worth it. I want to get out and show that people can change if they want to, if they're willing to," Schmucker said.