Friday, 05 March, 2021

How a stolen safe changed a burglar’s life

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Matt Hahn

When a burglar opened a risk-free he had stolen from a residence, what he uncovered would send out yet another person to jail. But in an remarkable twist – it also saved the trespassing thief from serving a lifestyle sentence.

Matthew Hahn’s drug use started out in his early teenage a long time with marijuana, then led to meth.

He dropped out of large university and resorted to stealing to assistance his behavior.

In 2001 he came out of prison immediately after serving a 5-yr sentence.

He experienced been convicted of two critical offences less than California’s three strikes legislation so if he ever received arrested again, he would be experiencing a lifestyle sentence.

Hahn claims he “did pretty perfectly for a quantity of years… I had a terrific job, I was going to college, I was going to school. But then personal tragedy struck and my inability to cope led me to relapsing.”

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Matt Hahn

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Hahn stated as a youthful grownup he resorted to thieving to assistance his routine

One of Hahn’s closest childhood pals took his own existence, which he explained led him to months-long “binge of drug use and stealing”.

Then one evening in Los Gatos, California, in 2005 he brought residence a stolen safe that would help you save his everyday living.

The initial matter he pulled out was a set of dirty diapers – “a surreal knowledge”.

“There had been a variety of other items in the protected. There was a gun, there have been photographs. There was private paperwork for the person who owned it. And at last there was a electronic camera card. And when I set that into my laptop or computer it revealed images of the man or woman who owned the safe molesting an infant or a baby.”

He didn’t at very first realise what he was observing. “Even the 1st photograph I seemed at was odd, and I understood there was something strange about it, but I wasn’t genuinely positive what it was. And it was not right up until I noticed subsequent photographs that I realised what I was looking at was an adult and a kid.”

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Matthew Hahn advised his tale to Emma Barnett on BBC Radio 5 Dwell

  • Listen to the full job interview on BBC Seems.

It was not an possibility to walk into his regional police division and just explain to them he is been breaking into people’s residences and occurred to obtain proof of a criminal offense.

He knew he experienced to do one thing, but he also realized any felony conviction could result in a existence sentence.

So Hahn put the digital camera card in a change purse, producing a notice with the man’s identify and the tackle of the property he had stolen it from. He included: “Remember to get rid of this animal from the streets” and posted it to the police.

He questioned his mom to look at for information stories about the tale, after he lied and advised her he discovered the item at a garage sale.

About a 7 days afterwards, she referred to as and mentioned a person experienced been arrested.

Hahn claims Aitken experienced claimed the burglary to the police. When the area law enforcement division received the pictures, they called the gentleman for questioning beneath the guise of assembly him to go over the theft. Hahn thinks John “Robbie” Robertson Aitken, then confessed.

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Matt Hahn

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Hahn was arrested various periods

For Hahn, this was not the conclude. He ongoing to burgle residences and ended up in custody about eight weeks afterwards just after the serial amount of a stolen merchandise he sold on eBay was traced back to him.

He was then dealing with his third strike.

The officer that arrested him – and understood him from prior operate-ins all over city – asked: “What occurred to you, you have been executing so great?”.

“Nicely, at least I gave you Aitken”, he reported, outlining how he experienced posted the images.

Although Hahn was in jail awaiting trial, he was approached by the district attorney who was prosecuting Aitken, and questioned if he’d be keen to testify to having stolen the harmless.

Simply because Hahn was billed with numerous felonies and had two strikes currently, he was was experiencing “400-a long time-to-lifetime”.

He determine to testify about his crime, “I suppose at the expense of my ability to existing my individual defence.”

The moment he’d long gone on the record as having stolen the safe and sound, “I could definitely no longer current a practical defence for my very own situation”.

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Aitken was facing at minimum 25 years sentence for his crimes, and the sentencing discrepancy involving him and Hahn led to petitions supporting Hahn and an provide of a plea deal from the district attorney.

Some persons ended up stating he must be let out of jail on probation – a slap on the wrist for a job prison – and other folks stated he should really be given a extended sentence. In the close he was despatched to jail for 14 several years and 4 months, but served seven.

He and Aitken were being in the similar prison at just one place – even so Aitken was in protecting custody and Hahn was in basic populace, so they hardly ever crossed paths. Because Hahn was a witness in Aitken’s trial, they often had court docket appearances on the identical working day.

“When the bus came to the jail to pick us up, he was in a cage in the front of the bus even though I was just handcuffed and chained in the again. He under no circumstances realized I was in there with him, but I recognised him.”

They’ve hardly ever spoken, and Aitken is nevertheless in prison. Hahn claims he has hardly ever questioned his conclusion to testify in the trial.

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Matt Hahn

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Matt and his spouse Noelle are acquiring their initial household alongside one another

Even though in jail, he believed to himself: “No make any difference what this prison knowledge was heading to be, it was the past time I had to practical experience it”. He commenced drug restoration, as nicely as researching books presented to him by the mom of Aitken’s target, and meditating.

Just after prison he graduated from University of California at Berkeley. He found it hard to uncover perform as a felon, so became an electrician.

“I have a terrific task,” he states now, telling the BBC that he and his spouse have just bought a home. “Remarkable items are going on in my lifetime right now. I’ve undoubtedly moved on from prison.

“But really don’t get me erroneous. The very first thing I considered of when I experienced the provide on the dwelling acknowledged was, like, just 10 many years back I was still residing in a cell and I am heading to have my possess residence”.

Hahn claims his most important regret is the hurt he induced to men and women he didn’t know. He needs he could just take that back again.

“I assume the finest I can do is spend the restitution for the crimes, which I did. And do my best going ahead to inform my story [and] assist other persons who are having difficulties with dependancy to not potentially go down the similar path.”

  • Listen to the complete interview on BBC Seems.

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