It Takes a Thief (2005)

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It Takes a Thief
It Takes a Thief
Premiere February 2, 2005
Finale April 13, 2007
Host Matt Johnston
Jon Douglas Rainey
Network Discovery Channel
Style 45-minute reality series
Company Lion Television
Seasons 2
Episodes 80
Origin USA
This article is for the 2005 reality television series, for the 1968 Robert Wagner drama, see It Takes a Thief (1968).

It Takes a Thief is an American reality television series that originally aired from February 2, 2005 to April 13, 2007 on the Discovery Channel. The program is dedicated to revealing how vulnerable various properties (mostly suburban homes) are to burglary. In order to do this, the show employs two former thieves who have turned their lives around, Matt Johnston and his partner Jon Douglas Rainey, to break into the properties. After examining what went wrong, the buildings are refitted with new locks and security systems.



The format of the show is fairly rigid, on occasion an episode may drop a segment because either they know exactly where they want to hit or there's no ability to take a closer look at the house initially. However, many of the segments are staples and are never removed.

  • Casing the Hood/Joint: Matt and Jon drive through the neighborhood looking for a house with appropriate cover and signs of easy access for break-ins. After finding a house, the two take a closer look at the house for access points. These houses are always in the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut area because that's where the hosts live.
  • Meeting the Mark: Matt meets the people living in the house and they go over what is flawed and what could potentially be taken by a thief. Jon is no where to be found during this as it would give him an unfair advantage.
  • The Lockdown/Break In: After installing fiberoptic cameras in all of the rooms in the house, Matt and the owners lock up as they normally would and watch as Jon breaks in from the comfort of a van fitted with monitors.
  • Scene of the Crime: After Jon successfully tears the house apart and makes off with all of their prized possessions, the owners and Matt return to the house and examine what went wrong and what the thief made off with. They often go over the damage done by Jon during his thievery and what he didn't steal.
  • The Loot: After they've seen what a thief can do to their home, Jon returns with the things that he stole and they appraise the value of the loot. More often than not, Jon gives the street value of the things that he stole (i.e. Passports sell for $1000 on the black market). Occasionally a professional appraiser will be brought in to give the actual value of art or older valuables.
  • The Fix: Once the mess has been cleaned up, the house's security is fixed up to high standards. This generally includes new locks, new doors and windows and a new security system. The owners are shown exactly how the system works and how the new materials improve over the previously flawed systems.
  • The Final Test: Lastly, Jon and Matt come back a week or so later to give the house a new test without the family knowing. Generally Jon cannot break back into the house, although he has been able to in some cases due to doors and windows not being locked.

Also in the series is a periodic Allstate Protection Tip in which an Allstate insurance agent gives a tip that is in some way relevant to the episode. For instance, his tip for the episode with the college frat house was about using electronic locks rather than keys. Because Allstate is a sponsor of the series, the tip will always occur, generally after The Fix.


Season Premiere Finale #
Discovery Channel
Season One February 2, 2005 December 5, 2005 40
Season Two October 16, 2006 April 13, 2007 40


  • At a Glance: Additional information about the series.
  • History: The history behind and about the series.

External Sites