May 24, 2024

Roofman: The Real Life Hamburgler

In the Summer of 2002, when McDonald’s employees are getting ready to open their restaurant, a man, armed with a rifle, climbed through a hole in the roof, and pointed his rifle toward the employee’s robbing money from the safes and cash registers and leaving, until he was almost caught and lived inside a Toys R Us without anyone knowing for months. This is the real-life story of Jefferey Allen Manchester, also known as Roofman, the most infamous robber of fast-food chains through 1997 to 2005.

McDonalds Heist Spree

Roofman, had a strange way of robbing, he had robbed about 60 fast food chains, majority McDonald’s restaurants, he had a strict, but successful routine. First, he would scout and oversee the operation, closing times, and shift schedules, at the time all the McDonald’s of the west coast had the Same schedule. Then at the early hours of the morning, he would climb the roof and saw a whole that leads into the bathroom and hide until the workers were doing the morning prep. Roofman would pop out of the bathroom, with his rifle pointed at the employees forcing them to open the registers and safes and put the employees in the freezer and Roofman would disappear. All of the victims would tell police officers that Roofman would never resort to violence, and would gather all the employees, recommending putting on their coats, and would lock them into the freezer giving him enough time to escape, they reported that he is actually a nice guy. Since McDonald locations had the same layouts, it would be easy for Roofman to lengthen his spree. On the summer of 2002, Roofman was getting cocky as he robbed 2 McDonald’s 10 miles apart in the same night, but he left the freezer lock broke earlier than expected and security was high because of the other robbery. He ran into the wilderness where he was caught by authorities, while getting captured he complimented the police officer who caught him. Roofman had stolen a total of 100,000 thousand dollars from his spree. He got a total of 45 years in prison, but he won’t spend the full sentence.

Escape from Brown Creek Penitentiary

Manchester, while in prison, was a well-behaved prisoner until he was put in the metal department, making bed frames and lockers, which he had the idea to escape. Using his skills he learned from his robbery days, he scouted the schedules and found that the delivery truck comes in at the same time everyday, so he made himself a platform that could hide himself under the flatbed, and one day it was raining and that’s when he decided to leave, he chose a rainy day because the guards won’t look under well enough and he escaped prison, this happened on June 15th, 2004.

The Toys “R” Us Heist

Manchester/Roofman would flee to Charlotte, North Carolina and moved in a Toys “R” Us store, staying in backrooms and made a hidden wall, surviving on snacks and baby food, and he would exercise during the night when the store was closed by riding a bike throughout the store aisles. During the holiday rush of 2004, Manchester moved his living quarters to an abandoned Circuit City next to Toys “R” us to avoid detection, creating a room under a stairwell where he painted the walls, put up posters, and passed the time watching movies on a stolen TV. Between June and January of the next year, Roofman devised a plan to takeover and rob the Toys “R” Us in his biggest robbery ever, setting up an surveillance system throughout the store using baby monitors, and even changed employee schedules to line up with his Heist. As time passed, Roofman came under suspicion as employees noticed many missing items as a making his plans tighter. Roofman became a member of the community to kill the suspicion until the robbery, even dating a woman, Leigh Wainscott, and joining the local church. He spent a large amount of his time with Wainscott and her kids, bringing them toys he had stolen from Toys “R” Us, and hiding his identity with a secret job for the government. Roofman then burned down a dentist’s office where he had gotten work on his teeth done because it would have record of his true identity and robbed a pawn shop to get a gun for the robbery. On December 26, Manchester robbed the Toys “R” Us, taking a lot of cash before having to run away after two employees were able to sneak out of the store to get police, leading to police finding Roofman’s gremlin corner in the Circuit City.

The End of Roofman

After the police confronted Wainscott of who Roofman really is, who she thought to be a man named “John Zorn”, the police convinced Wainscott to call Roofman to her home on January 5, where he was arrested on the spot. Roofman was found guilty of a lot of charges relating to his past crimes, and sentenced him to 40 years in prison, with a release date in the 2030s. This Story is Real.

Sources

https://youtu.be/uqTMEjoJkLQ

https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/fugitive-hid-since-june-in-north-carolina-store/

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2000-apr-26-mn-23510-story.html