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It Takes a Thief—Discovery Channel Series

Tonight was the first episode of a new reality series on Discovery Channel, in which two ex-burglars arrange to break into the home of three bachelors (to show them how easy it is), and then revamp the house’s security to prevent future break-ins.

The first home targeted belongs to John, who inherited it from his parents. With a brother and sister (who live elsewhere), he also inherited lots of treasures, including an original Picasso and a sketch of John F. Kennedy that at one time hung in the White House. These treasures are stored in an unsecured crawl-space at the back of his bedroom closet.

His roommates, Anthony and Mark, have their own rooms in the house, and the three young men use the house as a commuter base (it is within commute distance of New York City) and a party pad. One former break-in artist, Matt, walks through the house with the three roommates and talks about their current security arrangements. He quickly finds they are non-existent. All three men are blasé about the prospects of being burglarized.

Once the burglar, John Ramey, breaks into their home (through an easily-jimmied door), they watch aghast as security cameras show the efficient trashing and gleaning process. John takes just over 10 minutes to remove everything of value from the house. At one point, he even calls out on John’s cell phone for backup.

After the burglary is complete, the young men go back into the house for a short cool-down. Then the Discovery crew begins clean-up while John-the-burglar confronts his “victims” before returning the stolen goods. The value of what he stole is astounding. One item that was barely noticed as John watched the burglar go through his belongs was the security key to his safe-deposit box. Along with the passport and business cards he also stole, John-the-burglar might have cleaned out John’s safe-deposit. Total take, possibly $450,000 to $500,000.

The amazing thing to me is, after some $3000 of security upgrades to the house, John-the-burglar returns with Matt to see if he can now break in. All of the upgraded door locks, window locks, etc. are good—but John has left the front door (and the access doors to his bedroom and closet treasure storage room) unlocked.

To my way of thinking, this kind of makeover program is a lot more valuable than most. It’s worth the hour to catch it when it comes around again.

About DrPat

  • melissa

    I just bumped into this show on the May 12 episode and I’m hooked. Mostly I just watch it because Jon is such a hottie, but the whole idea is a great concept. My boyfriend doesn’t think it should cost $20,000 to put in a good security system though. He’s outfitting our apartment with security system stuff from this other place – X10?I checked out someone else’s link to the Optex page and they seem pricey. Here’s the X10 URL

  • A New Fan in Wichita, Ks

    I was just wondering if anyone knew if, “It takes a Thief” was just in the New york area or are they in other areas also. If not, and Just in the Newyork Area, any plans on expanding to other states? perhaps Wichita, Kansas.

  • Jo

    i just love the show

  • Jo

    i just love the show

  • Jo

    love the show i think matt and jon are cute

  • amused channel surfer

    Why do they install those safes down on the floor so people have to crawl to use them. I doubt if people will use them on a regular basis, and will tire quickly of crawling on the floor to secure the family jewels every day. Nothing like a $200 closet sized gun safe from the local farm and sporting goods store. 4 feet high, two feet wide, a foot or more deep. No crawling around to use that, and it holds more than the little amount those floor mounted safes hold. Got the family history, photos, financial documents, home movies and videos, extra car and house keys, a couple guns, the 35mm cameras, video camera, and original computer software CD’s all tucked away in the gun safe. It’s bolted to the wall and not going anywhere. Might not be fully fire proof or fire hose proof, but it’s better than leaving it all sitting out in the open unprotected. I would bet it cost less than those little safes on the show. I just wish it came with a combination lock rather than a keyed lock. I got a little key box like real estate agents use, so that’s taken care of as well. $30 at the local builders store for the key lock box, so I’m up to about $250 with tax and all and have a bigger and more convenient safe than what they install on the flor of closets on the show. Installed most of my security stuff long before that show was on the air. Have a 3 channel video modulator and video cameras for the front and back doors, plus one for the out building. Just surf on the television and can see all that is happening around the house. It is mixed in with the cable tv system on the unused channels. Time lapse VCR was about $135 new on ebay with shipping. Can set it to record for days when I am out of town, and see all who stop by while I’m away from home. Got an older security system, nothing fancy, but it’ll scream when someone breaks in to the house. Have your basic common dead bolts and some nails in the windows, plus a motion sensor with the security system. Works for me, might not pass the shows fancy criteria, but will still slow down or stop most lowlife burglars. I find the show amusing. $1200 to see who is at the front door? My system cost about $50 per camera times 3, and $130 for the 3 channel modulator box, plus coax cable at pennies a foot.

  • kford

    does anyone know where matt is from in oklahoma i live in oklahoma small town and i know he talks about how small his town is.

  • Peter Appleseed

    Jon D. Rainey has more credits than just ITAT, in case you think he came out of thin air. He was in several indie productions, including “Protesters” and in TV he did “Sex and the City” – his performance involved being one of the scantily-clad patrons at a gay bar in NYC. There are several other films, in case anyone wants to know, just ask.
    Lots of my links at my site

    Yours truly,

  • Peter Appleseed

    Click the URL to research how I know about Jon. Jon was a hard-working, low paid actor in the process of relocating to South Africa, when he got his big break with the present show. As for Matt, I don’t know as much about him. He does have a website and actually he is easier to get in touch with.
    I think the show is a pretty decent show. It ain’t perfect, but it beats most of what is out there these days!

  • Jen

    After being in the security and safety industry for a while, I think this show is a true showing of not only what can happen but what DOES happen. I have seen it first hand many times! Security systems work IF they are set up correctly. This is why I love the episodes with people who have security systems and get broken into so easily. Two words: Cell backup! If you don;t have it, it’s like having a car with no engine… sure it looks like a car but when you realy need it, how far will it get you?

    Also the comment on #30 was spot on… it’s the people who should have bette rsecurity thqat usually don’t. Anyway, great show, keep it going. I think you will hel a lot more people protect their homes, families and belongings than you’ll give idiot criminals ideas to use to break in. Unfortunately they already know most of the tricks!
    One last thing… [Edited]

  • michelle

    I discovered the show in feb.’06, and it was on Discovery channel @ 5pm eastern time. I am a loyal fan; but disturbed to see it is not been on since the end of May ’06. It was replaced with “Cash Cab” (also a fan). Anyone w/any knowledge as to when it w/be back on??? By the way…am also infatuated with Jon, love the bad boys! What chic doesn’t?

  • David Pritzker

    This show is great! Be aware of how society is today and how to protect your home and loved ones.

    I have dealt in the safes and security business for years and cannot agree more with this show on protection.

    One good thing for everyone is a fireproof safe to protect your most precious values. [Edited]

    Best regards,


  • http://Claire #63

    The day It Takes a Theif got pusblished and first aired was on my birthday last year.

  • tammy

    Did anyone see the episode where they made bookshelves but there was a closet or a room behind it? Do you know who makes those or where to find the hardware to make those?

  • brian vachek

    hey matt and john, i love watching your show. i watch it every day at 6:00. i love all the security upgrades and all the advise you give out.

  • MariaNY

    first if all i have to say i love this show so much!!! and i saw matt on the street in new york a few weeks ago, i was having brunch with my mother one morning and you can bet we locked the doors beforew we left LMAO! he was really freindly and i told him how much i love the show- john and matt are so cute :) and its so good to help people learn how not to get broken into. i think its a great show i am glad its back on. matt was so polite and he was with some tall girl- model? lucky her he is a hottie, thats for sure. john and matt can break into my house any time :) anyway god bless love this show keep uo the good work discovery

  • Jordan Stark

    I saw the show for the first time today… a little late judging from the comments on here. I thought the show was fairly interesting but highly dramatic concerning THE DANGER OF BEING ROBBED. My parents have been robbed twice, the house was never ransacked AND the second time we did have an alarm but we bypassed an open window. First off, sure it’s a concern to make sure your house is locked but my question was, to who’s benefit was the production of this show? You can make television shows about anything but WHY about one who’s entire focus is to stage fake burglaries by first getting people to sign up to get burglarized. Yea, sure it makes you paranoid when you watch. With enough desire, any home can be robbed with or without security upgrades. My answer was finally answered when they had a brief “TIPS” bumper with the two main characters from the show and a representative from— ALLSTATE. HOME INSURANCE anyone? Perhaps still pay insurance while you also pay for an upgraded security system that you’ll probably never have to use, but if a thief ever happens to choose you, you’re set and so are we from ever having to pay for your claim… but we insurance companies are still banking off you anyways. Yaaay. Reading from the other comments on here, I’m now not surprised to find that these guys were also actors and never real burglers too. Funny… So that’s why he left the ladder sitting outside and leaning against the house?! VERY stealthy.

  • Jordan Stark
  • Jordan Stark

    AND Look HERE. Surprise surprise. The reason this question came to me and why I accidently stumbled upon this blog, is because I’m a recent graduate from an “art school” here in L.A. and simple put, we deal with media and communication. I went to school for graphic design and had several classes in advertising concepts. Generally, people have no idea what’s they’re being fed and why unless they ask questions such as these. “Why are they telling me this?” There is nothing wrong with speculation. In this case, consider speculating about something other than your house. Cheers.

  • Jeremy

    I really don’t care if Matt and Jon are actors. If they have no street credit, that makes the TV show more appealing IMO. The reason I say that is because if the people breaking in have no street credit and are simply actors, it would show people the cold hard truth. It would show people that a house lacking proper security is vulnerable to anybody, be it your hardened criminal or the thief who is trying it out for the first time.

    The show has a good message and the events that happen are realistic and could happen to anyone. If nothing else, the house gets a free home security makeover. Who cares if these guys are actors or if the events are staged? It has personally taught me a lot about keeping my residence more secure.

  • Jordan Stark

    Right. I understand the idea of “better to be safe than sorry.” To be honest, them being actors really doesn’t concern me so much. That’s actually the smallest of my concerns. Personally, my biggest concern is the reason you are even seeing this show and spending any money on security and being worried about it in the first place. If it wasn’t for Allstate’s sponsoring of this show, you would never ever see the show and think about “their” security “tips” (as if it were THAT likely to happen to you). Let me put it this way, a lot of people are making a lot of money based on a natural human paranoia and them selling/acting out worst case scenarios. The biggest benefactor and only reason you’re thinking about any of this is because of Allstate’s Home Insurance division. Some think it’s great, some think it’s really kind of subversive. Based on how they handle the show with product placement etc, I think it’s extremely subversive also based on the HUGE amount of corporate benefits. All sales of Home Insurance that result from the show should be given to educational institutions to REALLY assist in security from pety robbery? Educating people how to make security systems for paranoid rich people perhaps? Next, Enron should sponsor a show on how an entire state can protect themselves from being robbed by “legitimate” American corporate businesses. Or, better yet, perhaps a show on how a whole city can secure themselves from a Hurricane so their belongings don’t float away when it fills with water? Sounds like two potential Nobel Peace Prize nominees, I hope Matt and Jon can be on those shows too.

  • Sarasota

    This show is simply fun, and I watch it for all the tech stuff. I have been the farthest thing from concerned about security… the key to my home has been either under the mat or in plain view, if we even locked the front door at all, for decades! This show does not evoke paranoia in me. It is interesting to learn what devices are available now, and too many children are now disappearing out of homes rather randomly these days, and many people are murdered in nice communities. As a responsible parent, I have implemented a few things, like the secured key box installed by the front door. This was such a relief to my friends, they were really concerned for me. Things are just things, and even a break in to my brand new truck where my navigation system was ripped from the dash in my driveway didn’t affect me. This show is a good source for determining appropriate tools to use as we come to a day where strange things happen, and good sense can prevent a lot of meaningless and cruel actions on the part of sick people. Sorry, but if anyone thinks simple safety is paranoia, read the paper. In my quiet, mostly crime free neighborhood, one mother of seven could be alive today if there was just some basic precautions like a deadbolt lock on the garage door. This show is very informative and fun… it presents this stuff in a very real, and slightly lighthearted way… Simple, straightfoward, and hysteria free… this show is great!

  • Mariam

    I LOVE DIS SHOW!!!! Itz mi fav. I jus love it. I can describe it in soo many wayz but it won’t all fit in her. So later!!!!!!!!!

  • Reggie — Pine Hill, NJ

    I know I am almost 2 years late, but as for the It Takes a Thief show on Discovery. Jon Rainey was from Berlin, NJ. He was a thief growing up and the bio on the Discovery Channel page was right when it said that he tried to steal Corvettes from the Miss America Pagent. I used to be friends with Jon and he did do all that was said he did. You are knocking someone who has straightened out their life and is making money on it!!

  • Jason Paige

    is there anyway to recommend a place for the producers of the show to consider robbing?

  • Frank Kirk

    First I want to say that I was on the audition for this Discovery Channels “It Takes a Thief” with the two guys that are on the show now. This is supposed to be a reality TV show. Well let me enlighten you all. These two guys are as phoney as 20.00 Rolex watches. I spoke with them at length during the taping. They both had no experience at burglary. Nor were they ever in prison. One was a private. directive that quit his job because he got beat up by a girl boyfriend. The other I don’t remember, but what I do remember them saying is that they both didn’t know how the hell they’ve gotten this far in the audition. I was hired by Discovery Channel and Lions and fired because I had an open case of a disorderly conduct and assault charge involving protecting my mom. They knew this, I proved it to them from transcripts. Discovery’s answer to that was. Lets higher these to and deceive the public, the audience never knows. I have proof, contracts, e-mails and everything. They even took my ideas that I used during the taping of the treatment. Am I upset? Hell yea. Discovery was looking for someone with prior arrests for burglary. Well it’s been over 15 yrs for me. Just so happens I had to protect my moms integrity. But what I’m saying is that Discovery Channel is making money from the public with their lies and deceptions in portraying these guys as something that they are really far from, BURGLARS. There’s more reality in watching to turtles fighting. Shame on you Discovery Channel for deception just because of money. Your show is as phoney as they are

  • Justin

    Allstate doesn’t have a corner on the “Don’t be a fool, lock your door” tips market. 99% of the stuff on the show is completely generic, and could have been sponsored by Master Lock or Sears without changing a single thing on the show.

    I do have to wonder whether the show will return for another season. I’ve looked around on the net and haven’t found anything definite either way. And if past attempts are any indication, we certainly can’t expect that Discovery will put out some realistically priced DVD’s for us (e.g., they sell most of material from Myth Busters at $20+ for a single episode… who’s their target market, Bill Gates stuck on an island with no cable?).

  • http://benjamin ben

    plz come back on i’m bord with nothing to watch on thursdays.

  • Jim Manning

    I just washed a couple of utubes with these guys on Heraldo of Fox news. Dont they check if these guys are the real thing before they put them on the show? Heraldo depicted them as ex cons, hardened criminals who changed there ways. Man, you can even believe the news anymore. I’m going to see if I can selll Heraldo a 20 dollar rolex for 3k. Wanna bet he’ll take it?

  • Diana morgan

    Please tell me where to get the film to stop glass shattering. I am buying a 1650 sq ft Craftsman home with single pane windows. I also need the information about safe storm windows for added protection.

    I watch the show whenever I can. I have lost nearly everything of value in three break ins. I don’t want to lose what I now have. They have great information; I just wish I could find affordable products like they talk about for the people on tv.

  • brody

    can i request were they hit next?

  • Jaclyn

    I love u JON RAINEY and MATT JOHNSTON!!! LOVE ur show and now I am obsessed with you guys!!!! If u guys get to read this post ur email addresses on the message boards!!! I REALLY want to write to u in person both of u guys!!!

  • CODY


  • CODY


  • laly

    omg hes so fucking hot

  • Max Carson

    I love this show too! Now that I’ve been telling everybody about it, it’s off the air. I never thought to tape it. Would anybody here be interested in selling copies of the episodes they taped? Would be willing to pay a reasonable price for same. Please respond to