What to Know
The I-Team and Telemundo 47 Investiga sent surveys to hundreds of people serving time for robbery in New York and New Jersey prisons
A whopping 70 percent of muggers were always or sometimes under the influence of drugs or alcohol when they committed robberies
Surprisingly, a majority of muggers didn't have a preference as to the sex of their targets, though 43 percent said they targeted men
When it comes to career thieves, there's nothing like robbing a cop. Or so says convicted mugger Christopher Ellington.
The 32-year-old Harlem native is serving a 10-year sentence at Coxsackie Correctional Facility in upstate New York for mugging three people in midtown Manhattan over three nights in 2012. He says he has only been convicted of that spree, but has committed dozens of robberies.
One, in particular, stands out.
Years ago, Ellington said he targeted a police officer in Harlem because it was a badge of honor for young teens to go after a cop.
"If you got a cop, you were the man on the block. I crept up behind him and put him in a chokehold," he said. "I took everything. I left the gun."
Ellington was one of many convicted robbers to respond to a questionnaire the I-Team sent to hundreds of inmates in December as part of a joint project with Telemundo to help you avoid becoming a mugging target -- or victim.
See full coverage of the series, including survey results and other interviews, here.
He and another inmate that the I-Team previously spoke with at Greenhaven Correctional Facility, David Solano, said that plainclothes NYPD officers were included on their long lists of victims. Solano says he ambushed and robbed an officer without knowing that he was in law enforcement.
"I grabbed him from behind. I went in and thought it was his wallet but it was his badge, so I took his badge and gun," he said. "About two or three months later, he saw me at the precinct and said, 'yo, I remember you'."
The 49-year-old convict said he was sure the officer never reported the theft. If he were the cop, Solano said, he wouldn't tell his colleagues if a robber stripped him of his badge and gun.
Solano previously told the I-Team though that it didn't matter who he mugged -- just what he could get out of it.
For Ellington, the adrenaline rush was paramount. He said there was a certain thrill in knowing he could be caught at any moment.
"You're robbing the people, and the adrenaline is, 'Oh my God, I know I can get caught'," he said. "When you don't get caught for a while, you tend to get bold."
The career criminal said he always carried a weapon, including guns, knives, brass knuckles and crow bars.
"It was like a job to me, it was seven days a week," Ellington said. "I was my own boss, I made my own schedule."
"You get hungry for keeping up a lifestyle with your friends," he added. "I didn't just want a penny in my pocket, I wanted to have a couple of hundred [dollars]."