Inside the Mind of a Burglar

Inside the Mind of a Burglar

The idea of the feline thief is one Hollywood fancies to idealize: A sophisticated nobleman or woman with a propensity for mischief and affection for sparkling jewels, exciting us as we see them burst in and take articles of their desire. From To Catch a Thief to The Bling Bling, thieves are either seen as slapstick comedians or provocative burglars.

Still, reality sinks in, and thieves are nothing of the like. In fact, they’re far from the comical stance that Hollywood portrays them to be. Burglaries continuously distress their victims leaving them feeling unsafe, vulnerable, and intruded. Even though burglary rates have gone down to 25 percent all around the globe, it is still a common crime. In 2013, the FBI estimated about two million burglaries alone. About 60 percent of those crimes were from forced entry wracking up about $4.5 billion worth of loss. On average, every theft costs about $2.300.


A researcher from the University of Portsmouth named Claire Nee has been investigating crime and theft for about twenty years. Because of high clearance rates, thieves often remain active in their crimes while others become experts at what they do. In every task repeated, skills are imminently developed. Nee explains that “by interviewing burglars over some years we’ve discovered that their thought processes become experts in any field, that is they learn to automatically pick up cues in the environment that signify a successful burglary without even being aware of it. We call it ‘dysfunctional expertise.”

Burglars think differently than a normal person as they are described with dysfunctional expertise. According to Nee’s studies, robbers continue to do normal things while they “work.” Mental notes are collected as they pursue normal activities. They highlight vulnerable properties, check that it will be empty, and think about the potential consequences.