A hermit was arrested last week after 27 years spent stealing expensive items from Maine residents while living in the woods alone. Christopher Knight, 47, was dubbed the North Pond Hermit after stealing over 1,000 items to help maintain his solitary lifestyle.
The North Pond Hermit was arrested after his most recent break-in, which involved Pine Tree Camp in Rome, Maine— Game Warden Sgt. Terry Hughes had set up a surveillance system to catch Knight.
"He used us like his local Walmart," Harvey Chesley, facilities manager for the camp, told CBS news. The place was originally built for polio patients in the 1940s, but Knight was seen putting meats and other items in a bookbag to sustain his life in the woods.
The video led to Hughes chasing the perpetrator and catching him Tuesday. At his camp, the hermit had plenty of stolen provisions, including tarps, propane tanks for a cooking stove, a tent, a makeshift shower, and a battery-run radio, which he would use to listen to news and music.
"Everything he owned was stolen except for his eyeglasses," Maine State Police spokesman Stephen McCausland told ABC News, referring to the man's 1980s-style aviator spectacles. "He listened to Rush Limbaugh."
Knight was charged with theft and burglary for the $238 worth of items stolen from the Pine Tree Camp, and although police suspect he is responsible for over 1,000 high-end items being stolen in the area, this is the only crime for which he was charged. He is currently being held in Kennebec County Jail on $5,000 bail, the County District Attorney's Office said.
Authorities reported that the hermit seemed repentant for his crimes. Local residents were brought to the camp Thursday to sort through evidence and reclaim items that had been stolen years ago. Among the camp were Nintendo Gameboys, a watch, shovels, rakes, coolers, and a coffee pot.
"When we went to the site where he has been living, it only took a few minutes looking around and making observations such as ropes that were imbedded in the trees that had grown around them that he used to hold his tarps up, shoes that were under rocks that had been there for years, there was enough indication to me ... that he had been there for a lot of years," said Hughes.
The hermit disappeared from his Maine home when he was only 19 for unknown reasons. During questioning, Knight revealed to authorities that he hadn't spoken to another human being since the 1990s.
"He passed somebody on a trail and just exchanged a common greeting of hello and that was the only conversation or human contact he's had since he went into the woods in 1986," State Trooper Diane Vance told CBS.
Knight's lack of human contact, coupled with the rarity of his appearances led to local residents regarding him almost as a myth. Still, some nearby would leave food outside to avoid theft and to help the hermit survive the harsh Maine winters— temperatures could drop to under 10 degrees regularly, and Knight had only sleeping bags to ward off the cold.
"To me, this is mind-boggling. I just can't believe this guy was here 27 years," Frank Ten Broeck, a retired N.J. police officer with a cottage in the area, told the Associated Press. "This is some of the most severe weather you can go through."
Whether or not Knight has entered a plea in the theft case is unknown.