Egypt's repentant thief writes autobiography

Gives readers guide for protection against burglary

Published:

An Egyptian thief decided to repent, write his life story, and give readers advice about protection from burglary. Most striking of all, he donated the millions he earned from theft to the government.

After doing time in jail for the thefts he committed, Egyptian burglar Mohammed Rashed released a book that tells his story with crime and repentance, the UAE newspaper al-Itihad reported last week.

In the book, which he sells to people in the street, Rashed writes that he was born in Upper Egypt in a family that lived in abject poverty, especially after the father left them to work in Cairo then married another woman and stopped supporting them.

“After my father left, I started to look for means to feed my family,” Rashed writes. “One day, I went to a neighbor’s and knocked the door several times, but nobody came. I entered the house and stole 10 hens from the yard. I sold them and nobody knew, so I developed an appetite for stealing.”

I entered the house and stole 10 hens from the yard. I sold them and nobody knew, so I developed an appetite for stealing

Repentant theif Mohamed Rashad

First-class apartments

Watching a movie about burglary made Rashed decide to make breaking into rich people’s apartments his specialty.

“I started to target first-class districts in Cairo. I used to come from Upper Egypt, rob a few apartments, then go back home. Each time I stayed for around two days.”

Rashed recounts funny situations that happened to him while breaking into apartments. One time he was looking for things to steal in an apartment when the door bell rang.

“I was terrified and tried to escape from the window, but it was barred. I looked from the door hole and saw a man who looked like an electricity-bill collector.”

He opened the door and pretended to be the apartment owner. He even pretended that his wife was inside and that he was talking to her about what she was cooking for lunch.

“I paid the bill and the man left, but the funny thing is that I didn’t find anything worth stealing in that apartment.”

Rashed also lists the famous people whose apartments he had robbed, on top of whom were the son of former parliament speaker and the son of former minister of defense as well as a former Egyptian ambassador.

Theft rituals

Rashed wrote that he followed certain rituals before breaking into an apartment like buying expensive clothes from the best stores in Cairo.

“I bought a luxurious car and hired a driver who used to drop me off at the places I targeted.”

He also used to watch the residents of the building he targeted and examine all the windows and balconies.

“I went to the apartment whose windows and balconies were closed. I never used tools to break the lock, but I used to push with all my might then close it after I get in.”

After entering the apartment, Rashed would mainly look for money and jewelry and he used to sell the jewelry in Upper Egypt.

“My activities did not stop at Egypt. I also went to several Arab countries like Jordan and Qatar as well as Saudi Arabia where I pretended to be a pilgrim and where I was arrested and deported to Egypt.”

My activities did not stop at Egypt. I also went to several Arab countries like Jordan and Qatar as well as Saudi Arabia

Rashad

Road to redemption

When he was in jail, Rashed had a dream where a voice told him “you’ll be brought back to life and let’s see what you’ll do.”

“When I woke up, I heard the dawn call for prayers. I prayed and decided to repent.”

After his release, Rashed appeared on TV and recounted his story and asked to meet the minister of interior and when he did, he told him that he wanted to donate all the money he stole.

“I told him I want to donate the five million pounds ($900,000) I earned as well as the car, apartment building and grocery store I owned. He praised my decision and rewarded me with a pilgrimage trip and a kiosk to start anew.”

Then, he decided to tell his story in a book in order to make an example of himself and warn other people from falling prey to crime.

“I also want to take part in encouraging other thieves to repent through making it clear that they will never get away with it and through showing them how terrible it is to be in jail.”

Rashed sells the book, which he called “Back to God,” in the street for 10 Egyptian pounds and calls upon people who buy it to pray for him and accept his repentance.

After the success of the book, Rashed hopes he could turn his life story into a film or a TV series in order to reach the biggest amount of people.

I also want to take part in encouraging other thieves to repent through making it clear that they will never get away with it and through showing them how terrible it is to be in jail

Rashad

Security instructions

In addition to expressing his regret and warning other thieves, Rashed also includes a security guide in the book that tells his autobiography.

He uses his experience in theft to acquaint people with the precautions they need to take in order to protect their apartments from burglary.

“The most important thing is not to leave a sign that shows there is no one inside the apartment like, for example, putting a lock on the door.”

Apartment owners, he adds, have to give the illusion that they are inside because this discourages thieves from trying to break in.

“They should leave the lights or the radio on and it is much better if the door is made of iron and not wood.”


(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)