How are burglars different and good at what they do?

Posted on April 24, 2015

Photo: flickr

This is a particular interesting topic as it could help us to safeguard our belongings and properties against the threat of theft. Maybe, this is how detective spots the signature trail of a “skilled” robber.

Interviews with burglars is a limited approach. A new study propose an approach with more compelling results. Post-grad students were studied instead. They tested them against real burglars. They were given the task to steal from a house via the back of the property.

Through video observation, they found that the burglars tend to spend relatively more time in rooms that contained more valuable items. They tend to start searching upstairs before proceeding down, while students tend to search downstairs.

What’s surprising is that burglars took fewer items. But, these minimal items are of greater value. They haul on average nearly 1000 pounds dollar more than those by students.

Interestingly, the burglars had more variation in their movements and strategies. They also target designer bags which contains cash and phones or leather jackets in the hall way. This might be less noticeable to students.

The test group were tested on a simulation of a virtual mock-up of the same house as well. They had to navigate through mouse clicks to steal items. Since it is not easy to gain access to residential areas to test this experiment out. If this succeeds, it could help to study more offending behaviours.


Source material from British Psychological Society

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