Ghost Burglar


Bernard C. Welch, dubbed “The Ghost Burglar” by the detectives hunting him, was called the most prolific burglar of modern time. He eluded police up and down the East Coast for years, while stealing millions of dollars worth of goods from the elite homeowners of the Washington, D.C., area.


Welch was finally caught only because he shot a prominent heart surgeon, Dr. Michael Halberstam, during a botched burglary in December 1980. Halberstam then chased down and hit Welch with his car as Welch fled the scene. Halberstam died on the operating table, and Welch was eventually sentenced to 143 years plus life in prison.

Initially housed in an “escape-proof” prison in Marion, Illinois, Welch manipulated prison officials into transferring him to a less secure facility in Chicago on the promise of becoming a snitch. There, he broke out with the help of an Aryan Nation enforcer. Upon escape, Welch continued his criminal ways, earning a place on the U.S. Marshals’ Most Wanted list before being captured again.

When Welch was arrested in 1980, newspapers reported the Halberstam death, but the background and aftermath of this fascinating story never saw the light of day because other news events—the murder of John Lennon and later the assassination attempt on President Reagan—became bigger headlines.

Now you can finally read the full and complete story of America’s most “successful” burglar. Ghost Burglar: The True Story of Bernard Welch—Master Thief, Ruthless Con Man, and Cold-Blooded Killer by Jack Burch and James D. King details Welch’s life from his humble beginnings in upstate New York to the lavish world he created for his family, all financed by his criminal activities, to his trial, imprisonment, escape, and eventual recapture. Co-author King, one of the detectives on the Ghost Burglar case, offers firsthand insights into the police investigation that always seemed one step behind Welch’s maneuvers. Extensively researched, Ghost Burglar finally reveals the full details of Bernard Welch’s life of crime.

5 reviews for Ghost Burglar

  1. Lee Martin

    Rating: Excellent
    Comments: I became aware of Bernard Welch in 1980 when he robbed my grandparents’ home. None of us could’ve known the extent of his crimes or the sociopath that committed them. Thanks to Jack Burch and Jim King we now do. Ghost Burglar is a fascinating read. The storyline is compelling, their research is impressively thorough. After purchasing a copy I was lucky enough to meet Jim King in person. His commitment, as well as Jack Burch’s, to documenting Bernard Welch is commendable. As the book shows, Jim was the detective that pursued Welch….who better to co-author the book. Whether you’ve heard of Bernard Welch or not, I highly recommend Ghost Burglar. It’s an entertaining and moving account on one of the world’s most prolific thieves.
    Submitted by: Lee Martin on 11/9/2012 1:02:19 PM

  2. JP

    Rating: Excellent
    Comments: The book is a great real crime book. I read it over the weekend and had trouble putting the book down. Moving forward, I will be keeping my house locked up tight. Questions for the authors: What is known about: an escape tunnel found at the Great Falls, VA house and the Apartment bedroom furniture that hid guns in his final capture? Thanks. JP.
    Submitted by: JP on 12/26/2012 11:24:26 AM

  3. MaryAnn

    Rating: Excellent
    Comments: I finished Ghost Burglar last night. Wow! I was completely riveted. I needed a box of tissues before I finished the classy closing presentation of such personal information. MaryAnn
    Submitted by: MaryAnn on 1/1/2013 8:12:09 PM

  4. L Yates

    Rating: Excellent
    Comments: I really enjoyed the book. An outstanding job. The last several pages brought tears to my eyes.
    Submitted by: L Yates on 1/8/2013 5:57:12 AM

  5. M Tihila

    Rating: Excellent
    Comments: Really enjoyed the book. Clearly a five-star effort.
    Submitted by: M Tihila on 1/11/2013 4:58:55 PM

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