Burglar is an optional side-mission available in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The mission is available at the start of the game, although it is first introduced to the player during Ryder's mission, Home Invasion.
The mission can be activated whenever the player enters a black Boxville between the hours of 20:00 and 6:00. The mission requires the player to quietly search houses for anything worth stealing, such as Television sets, stereos, radios, video game consoles (such as the CJD 500), VCRs, and microwaves. In addition, on the floor in living rooms and bedrooms the player may also find money ($20-$70), knives, baseball bats, pistols, silenced pistols and shotguns (but only the first time he enters a home; once he leaves and re-enters the property, additional items will no longer appear).
Not all the houses in a certain area can be stolen from, and sometimes some houses can either be accessible or not. Only those with a yellow arrow in front of the door can be entered and looted.
Accessible homes in Los Santos could be found in:
- East Los Santos
- El Corona
- Glen Park
- Las Colinas
- Playa del Seville
Accessible homes in San Fierro can be found in:
- Calton Heights
- Juniper Hill
- Juniper Hollow
- Ocean Flats
- Santa Flora
Accessible homes in Las Venturas are found in:
Once inside a house, the player must find an item and take it back to the van. The player must also be quiet, as making too much noise will wake the house's occupants, and they will call the police; giving the player ten seconds to escape the house before they do so. On some occasions, the inhabitants will already be awake upon entering the home, and sometimes it can be a whole house full of gang members (if the house is within a gang territory). When it is near dawn, specifically after 06:00, if the player still has items in the truck, the player must unload all of the items stolen at a nearby garage marked on the map.
The black Boxville can be found parked in each of the three cities:
- In the Ganton Courts, across the street from the gym in Ganton, Los Santos.
- Behind the abandoned Harry Plums Wholesale Fruit building in Doherty, San Fierro.
- Behind the building closest to the south-east freeway exit in Pilgrim, Las Venturas.
Bringing the goods to the lock-up before 06:00 is unnecessary. If CJ is inside the truck by 06:00, he will receive five in-game hours to head to the lockup. There is one lock-up in each city.
- LB's Garage in Playa del Seville, Los Santos.
- The abandoned Harry Plums Wholesale Fruit building in Doherty, San Fierro where the Boxville also spawns.
- A garage next to where the black Boxville spawns in Pilgrim, Las Venturas.
The money earned from burglary depends on the number of goods being picked up (TV, stereo, game consoles, etc.). It's calculated with the following formula: number of items2 x 20 = money. The BradyGames Official Strategy Guide claim that earning over $10,000 or more from the Burglar mission is required for 100% completion, however, that is not necessary: Getting a total of $10,000 or around 23 items (not during one session) from the mission, however, will give the player infinite sprint, as well as an additional $3,000.
Upon entering a house, the noise meter appears. It is similar to other meters in the game that gradually fill while performing a certain action. There are ways Carl can walk throughout the house that will not make the meter fill up completely. He can crouch and then slowly walk. Crouching reduces noise while being able to move quickly. Alternatively, he can walk very slowly, or wield a heavy weapon that prevents running. Bumping into the interior or opening a door inside the house also fills up the noise meter.
One of the easiest methods is obtaining a Silenced 9mm and shooting the occupants of the house in the head, thus eliminating the noise meter. Shooting sleeping occupants can be difficult, as they automatically rise and give barely seconds to aim straight at the head and kill the occupant before the police are notified. However, if CJ kills the occupant and leaves just before the police arrive when he returns inside, (assuming there is only one occupant) the noise meter will be gone. It is also possible to kill the occupants with the help of a flamethrower, but CJ must aim at them and fire while being cautious as it may be harmful to him as well (only if fire immunity has not yet been gained from the Firefighter missions).
Another method is to sneak to an item, pick it up, walk to the living room, and just run to the door. Although this will alert the occupants and the 10-second countdown will appear, it should be enough time to leave the house. Once done, put the item in the Boxville and return into the house. The occupant(s) will be asleep again, giving the ability to repeat those actions and take everything in the house.
Non-sleeping occupants do not respawn when killed by the player, so another method would be to run into a home, shoot all the occupants with a preferred weapon, run out before the police are alerted, and then return to the home. If all occupants were killed, then the noise meter will disappear.
Before 20:00 head to a place filled with residential houses that can be robbed. At 20:00, start the mission and quickly look for a house to rob. Choosing a house before the mission starts is impossible due to houses being randomly selected targets. This way, one can possibly have more time in robbing, but still has to watch out for the countdown timer. The Boxville can also be parked with the back facing the house's entrance, saving some time used to run all the way to the back of the vehicle, wherever it was parked.
It appears that the closer to 20:00 the player enters the house, the greater the chance will be to encounter the occupants while they are awake. A dangerous situation can also present itself in Los Santos, in which a room full of enemy gang members, even allied gang members, can be encountered. Gang members with weapons will shoot at the player and police will still be notified.
Homes and Residents
Pedestrians who have guns (A topless black male DJ in a red hat and pants, a black car-jacket wearing blue, and an older rich Hispanic man wearing purple) will attempt to retaliate against the player, with the Hispanic man being the most dangerous as he is armed with a shotgun. Aiming at sleeping pedestrians with a gun will wake them up. By shooting them in the head quickly enough, they will not make calls nor alert other residents in the house. If they are shot somewhere besides the head and a second shot is required to kill, the police will be alerted. Homes in Los Santos have the poorest value. Residential homes in San Fierro are moderate, but very far from the lockup, as buildings near the lockup are more commercial. Las Venturas has the most to offer, especially Prickle Pine.
The best place to go in Prickle Pine is the streets along Millie Perkins's home, as many of them are more likely to be accessible. They are all adjacent to each other, so distance is not a problem. The interiors of all homes have two stories of fancy rooms with expensive objects and sometimes money and pistols lying around. There are at least two residents inside in each house, usually sleeping, but on some occasions, there is one sitting in the living room. To maximize the time, Carl must be in Prickle Pine with the Boxville already parked in front of the first house before the time starts. It usually takes two hours in-game time to drive to Prickle Pine, so by 15:00 or 16:00, Carl needs to be in the Boxville. To quickly get to Prickle Pine, head north using the Pilgrim entrance to the freeway. Go off-road after passing the vehicle overpass to Spinybed, and continue until reaching Prickle Pine. Because there is no fence, entering Prickle Pine is easy, as there is an empty lot next to the Prickle Pine vehicle overpass. Wait for the 20:00 time at the side of the road. When the game starts, look for the nearest house. Once the player starts, he has to take note of the timer. By the few seconds until 6:00, CJ has to be in the truck for the next part to start. The player has five in-game hours to drive back to the lockup. They can simply retrace the steps in the freeway, and then make their way out. If the player can maximize their time as well as be lucky enough to steal very expensive objects, they can reach the $10,000 requirement in just one burglary. Another great place to go is Ocean Flats in San Fierro. Although it is a slight bit further from the location of the lockup, there are more accessible houses here and features spacious interiors, giving the player more items to rob.
- There is a glitch that sometimes prevents an item from being marked as "stolen". This normally happens when CJ enters a house, grabs an item and places it in the Boxville, goes to rob another house, then returns to the earlier house he had robbed. Therefore, every time the player enters the house's interior, the item will be there and can be stolen an unlimited amount of times, eliminating the need to rob another house, thus saving time.
- Similar to the above glitch, on the PC version there is a rare chance that when the player enters a house, gang members will spawn in place of the usual civilians, killing these gang members and exiting and re-entering the house may leave only one gang member left, they will constantly respawn every time they are killed and the house re-entered, and all items in the house will be "stealworthy," allowing the player to rob the house an unlimited amount of times. This can lead to extraordinary amounts of money, getting well above 10,000 in a single run.
- There is a rare bug on the PC version that when CJ enters a house to rob, the mission will have already ended before the player can do anything, regardless of the time.
- On the mobile version, since the game is assigned to pick up nearby items automatically without the need to press anything, it may render CJ uncontrollable if the game detects a nearby item but is blocked by an obstacle; as the game will attempt to pick up the item but is blocked access. This persists even after quitting the burglar mission, quitting the game and resuming will crash the game. The only way to regain control is to wait for the countdown timer, which sends the player outside.
- The player can use the aiming mode of a shotgun to walk rather than sneaking, this makes CJ walk a lot faster.