the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Saddle River NJ, If you want to be the “king” of all con men, you have to start young.

So instructs local author Thomas Giacomaro, who penned his lauded memoir, The King of Con: How a Smooth-Talking Jersey Boy Made and Lost Billions, Baffled the FBI, Eluded the Mob, and Lived to Tell the Crooked Tale, in 2018.

“By age seven I was already an accomplished thief,” says the North Haledon native.

Friday nights when his accountant father, Joseph, went out bowling and card playing, “he’d return home stinking of booze and strange perfume,” recalls Giacomaro, “and carrying a thick wad of bills.”

The little criminal was wide awake when dad staggered in at 4am. He waited until he heard dad’s thunderous snoring before making his move.

Armed with a mini flashlight, “I’d slip out of bed and tiptoe down the hall to the den. There, I’d slide a chair across the room to the bookcase. That’s where he stashed his wallet—on the top shelf.”

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Young Tom would reach up and find the bulging wallet, pilfer four or five twenties, and hide the bills in a hole he cut in his bedroom mattress.

“It’s what we call in the money-stealing business ‘easy money,’” says Giacomaro.

The following year, he had to work for it a bit.

At age eight he assembled a crew of neighborhood boys to break into nearby houses under construction and steal lightbulbs, nails, plumbing supplies, and toilet bowls to resell them to hardware stores at a discount price.

Confessing his crimes to the priest on Sundays, “I didn’t feel a trace of guilt or remorse,” he says—another essential quality in a con man.

“One good thing about being Catholic? You’re forgiven everything,” he says. 

“A few ‘Hail Marys’ and ‘Our Fathers’ and I was absolved. Until the next heist a few days later…”