In the 1990s and early 2000s, a crime spree targeting fast-food chains started from the Bay Area to Massachusetts. The burglar called himself the Roofman. His nickname explained how he broke into the restaurants. But did you know where he would hide after committing his crimes?
Former US Army Reservist Jeffery Allen Manchester, “The Roofman,” created a secret hideout inside a Toys “R” Us. After robbing a fast-food joint, he’d seek refuge in the toy store, play with toys, watch DVDs, and eat baby food. He installed a baby monitor to monitor the place when there were people.
What Was the Roofman’s Modus Operandi?
One thing about fast-food chains is that no matter where they are located or how big the branch is, they are almost identical structurally. This means the floor plans in each location are the same. In addition, the employees are trained with the same protocol. Having known this, Jeffery Allen Manchester had his favorite fast-food chain, McDonald’s.
Knowing what to expect from each branch, he came up with the perfect crime. Manchester named himself The Roofman because he would enter each fast-food joint he planned to rob. He’d literally drop into the restaurant from the roof. He would cut holes on the roof of these chain stores. He would often encounter underpaid teenagers who were not really keen on risking their lives to stop him. So, he worked with a routine.
Even if he was a thief, Manchester was quite polite. Employees would describe as gentle and considerate, often saying please and thank you. He would also make sure that the employees wore their jackets before locking them in the walk-in freezer. His routine always worked that he was able to burglarize 40 McDonald’s branches throughout the 90s. (Source: So Yummy)
Where Did Jerry Allen Manchester Hide Out?
During the day, Manchester would use a fake identity and volunteer in a church. He told his girlfriend and other congregation members that he worked for a secret department in the government.
He was a fugitive and would hide inside a Toys “R” Us by nightfall. He made his lair within a cubbyhole by the bicycle display.
He would keep busy racing remote-control cars on the roof after hours and riding bikes around the store for exercise. He even monkeyed with the employees’ work schedules, and his diet included stolen baby food. When the Toys “R” Us where he was holed up became crowded during the holiday shopping season, he fashioned a secret passageway into an adjoining Circuit City that had been abandoned. Meanwhile, he planned a takeover robbery of the Toys “R” Us, even installing a baby video monitor in his cubicle to see what was happening in the store.Sgt. Katherine Scheimreif, Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina Police Department
Machester even decorated his lair with posters, action figures, and a basketball hoop. He also installed a DVD player to watch Spiderman and other movies the store had on DVD. (Source: SF Gate)
When Did Jerry Allen Manchester Get Caught?
Authorities realized that Manchester was no ordinary criminal. He was, in fact, a genius. Manchester was obsessed with spatial patterns; this helped him with his routine and planning. It wasn’t difficult for him to crack the code and infiltrate the system. He was also fascinated with mazes and trap doors. This was evident in the plans authorities have uncovered from his lair. The police were impressed.
While he was busy living a double life, the police convinced his girlfriend, Leigh Wainscott, to help them capture The Roofman. She didn’t believe them at first, but once the evidence was presented, she was in shock.
She eventually helped the police catch him. Wainscott convinced Manchester to come to her home for her 40th birthday. He took the bait, and when he arrived, the police were waiting for him. They didn’t expect Manchester to be gentle until the end. He did not put up a fight and just went with the authorities.
He was very sad and humbled and felt terrible that he had to deceive us. He encouraged me and told me to be strong and to do the things we talked about doing. He wasn’t upset.Leigh Wainscott, The Roofman’s Girlfriend
There is not much said about Manchester after his arrest in 2005. (Source: So Yummy)