Advanced Burglars: Secrets of Criminal Mastery.

Advanced Burglars: Secrets of Criminal Mastery.

Is it possible to break into someone else’s house without spending the slightest effort on it? The BBC Future correspondent plunged into the psychological state of a professional burglar in order to understand how you can defeat the burglars.

At first everything seems easy and simple. To the quiet rustle of leaves, I walk through the backyard gate, cross the lawn, open the door to the house, and go unnoticed. I am committing a crime in broad daylight, and there is no one to stop me.

The glee that gripped me clouded my mind. First, I grab the flat screen TV, but I drop it to the floor. Time passes, seconds ticking in my brain, I run up the stairs, go down and again rush upstairs.

I stuff my laptop and phone into my backpack, but in my rush I miss the biggest loot.

My accomplice Claire rolls her eyes. She points to a jacket hanging over the back of a chair, inside pockets of which might contain a wallet with credit cards and keys. Then she nods to the iPad, which I left in the chair, and the passports in the dresser drawer.

I am killed: in my imagination, I pictured myself in the form of a good robber …

But at least I don’t have to fear being caught. The house we are robbing is not real. It is on the computer monitor; it is virtual reality that I can control with my mouse.

This is the newest tool Claire Nee, a forensic psychologist at the University of Portsmouth, uses to penetrate the mind of a burglar.

In the past, offenders were seen as impulsive, promiscuous and unprincipled people. Nobody thought they were particularly smart, because, as a rule, criminals were poorly educated people, she says. This was the mistake.

Claire found that burglars and burglars possess a complex set of cognitive tools, consisting of advanced automatic skills, akin to those of chess players and tennis stars. If we cherish the hope of learning how to prevent future crime, we should recognize that criminals have special skills.


Claire Nee began her research work in prisons, where she meticulously questioned offenders about their mistakes. She carefully explored the depths of their memory through interviews and questionnaires. In addition, she showed her interlocutors photographs and plans of houses and streets, encouraging them to recreate the way of thinking and actions of the day when they went on the crime. Do you think the convicted burglars were suspicious or hostile towards the one who tried to find out their secrets?

Not at all! They were just happy to be able to open up.

For the most part, they are incredibly bored. And in reality, they tend to be genuinely happy that someone is interested in what they are doing, ”says Nee.

But Claire Nee and her team were in for surprises. In one of her recent experiments, she invited a group of students and convicted burglars to a police safe house to watch the burglars enter the premises.

The back door was open, but the engineers who were filming were surprised to find a couple of burglars entering the apartment through a window high above their heads. As it turned out later, I forgot that I had left my briefcase downstairs. I watched a video of a burglar.

He rummaged through my portfolio and found all my money; it was something, – she recalls.

Claire Nee has shown through her experiments that most robbers operate on professional autopilot, allowing them to quickly and efficiently take advantage of every opportunity.

Cold head.

It all starts long before the day the crime is committed. When the cracker begins to feel the need for money, he (or she) begins tracking the daily routine of the potential victim – for example, pays attention to when the subject is walking the dog. Burglars, however, are surprisingly flexible in their approach and can change their minds and change plans at any time.

Let’s say they find a house that is easy to get into through a window openingstijdens or door, left open by mistake, or due to the absence of owners.

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