It Takes a Thief TV Poster Image

It Takes a Thief



Reformed thieves teach how to be safe (or scared).

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The show's intent is to help people keep their houses safe from burglary, but viewers could theoretically learn how to break into houses by watching the show. The hosts are former thieves who've turned their lives around. Most featured families are white and suburban.


Fake robber and his accomplices kick down doors, break windows, toss things around, and seem very aggressive while doing so.

Not applicable

Some bleeped cursing, along with words like "suck" and "damn."


Brands of home security equipment are sometimes visible. Hosts strongly promote hiring home security experts and installing expensive security systems.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this series about home security involves a former thief breaking into a home. Though it's probably not the show's intent, viewers learn methods for burglarizing houses. The hosts strongly promote the use of expensive security systems. Bottom line? Children of all ages may feel more afraid of their surroundings, whether dangerous or not, after watching.

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What's the story?

In the unique reality show IT TAKES A THIEF, families from around the country choose to test the weak links in their home security systems. Host Matt Johnston, who started robbing houses when he was a teenager but later turned his life around and became a teacher, watches on video as action man Jon Douglas Rainey, a former house and car thief turned private eye, cases the home and, without warning the family, stages a burglary. Once inside, he ravages the home, aggressively emptying drawers on the floor, rifling through kids' closets, stashing jewelry, credit cards and collectibles into pillowcases, and dashing out the door to his waiting vehicle. Johnston then reviews the video surveillance recordings with the family, showing them their weak spots and assessing their emotional reactions. After an expert security system installation, Rainey tests the house again and usually finds the break-in much more difficult.

Is it any good?


Despite its ostensible emphasis on safety and security, It Takes Thief can leave viewers feeling vulnerable. The hosts stress the ease with which burglars can enter your home, potentially putting people and possessions at risk. Younger viewers (and even adults) may not have the perspective needed to understand the difference between real and perceived risk. While the intention of the show is to help people feel empowered to protect their home, the result might instead be to create unnecessary fear. (And then there's the idea that potential thieves might pick up a few tips by watching. ...)

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about real versus perceived danger. What are the crime statistics in your area? Do you know anyone who's been burglarized? What's the emotional impact of being robbed? What's the emotional impact of feeling afraid of being robbed? How much time and energy do kids and parents feel is important to put into keeping possessions safe? How can families feel safe without feeling afraid? Is the show being responsible by demonstrating burglarly methods?

TV details

Premiere date:February 2, 2005
Cast:Jon Douglas Rainey, Matt Johnston
Network:Discovery Channel
Genre:Reality TV
TV rating:TV-PG

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Teen, 13 years old Written byrockstarg@m3r April 9, 2008

Good Show!

I love this show.It teaches families about how to be safe. Its also intresting to see what they can steal and if they almost get caught. A must see!


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