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: TVs, stereos, radios, video game consoles, VCRs, CJD 500s and microwaves. In addition, on the floor in living rooms and bedrooms the player may also find money ($20-$70), knife baseball bats, pistols, Silenced Pistols and shotguns (but only the first time he enters a home; once he is out and back in the 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
- Mulholland Intersection
- Playa del Seville
Homes in San Fierro are accessible in:
- Calton Heights
- Juniper Hill
- Juniper Hollow
- Ocean Flats
- Santa Flora
Las Venturas homes can be accessed 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 will be a whole house full of gang members.
When it becomes morning, 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 3 cities:
- Across the street from the gym in Ganton, Los Santos
- Behind the building across from the fire station in Doherty, San Fierro
- Behind the building closest to the southeast freeway exit in Pilgrim, Las Venturas.
Bringing the goods to the lockup before 06:00 is unnecessary. If CJ is inside the truck by 6, he will receive five in-game hours to head to the lockup. There is one lockup in every city.
- In Playa del Seville, Los Santos where Ryder and CJ take the stolen goods to.
- At the abandoned Harry Plums Wholesale Fruit building in Doherty, where the Boxville also spawns.
- Next to the Las Venturas Boxville spawning location.
The money earned from burglary depends on the amount of goods being picked up (TV, stereo, game consoles, etc.). It's calculated with the following formula: number of items2 x 20 = money.
The burglary mission is not required for 100% completion, but getting a total of $10,000 (not during one session) from the mission 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 you can walk throughout the house that will not make the meter fill up completely. You can crouch and then slowly walk. Crouching reduces noise while being able to move quickly. Alternatively, you can walk very slowly, or walk with 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 the player has 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 and be cautious that it may harmful to the player. You can also eliminate the noise meter by accidentally filling up the meter and alerting the occupants of your presence, though this is not recommended.
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, you should have time to run out of the house. Once you do, put the item in the Boxville and go back into the house. The occupant(s) will be asleep again, giving you the ability to repeat your actions and take everything in the house.
Before 20:00 head to a place filled with residential houses like Prickle Pine. At 20:00, start the mission and quickly look for a house to rob. You cannot choose a house before the game starts because not all houses are accessible and are randomly selected to open. This way, one can possibly have more time in robbing, but still has to watch out for the countdown timer. You can also park the Boxville with the back facing the entrance to the house, saving you the time used to run all the way to the back of the vehicle, wherever you parked it.
If you are on the PC, a very useful background tool to use is TimeSync 1.81, which turns an in-game minute (which normally lasts a second) into a real-life minute. This gives the player plenty of time to rob as many items as s/he pleases, and therefore maximizing the reward.
Some walkthroughs and the BradyGames Official Strategy Guide list earning over $10,000 or more from the Burglar mission as required for 100% completion, although it is not.
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
If you steal in Grove Street territory and are caught by fellow GSF members, they will still shoot you if armed. 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 also attempt to shoot you, with the Hispanic man being the most dangerous as he is armed with a shotgun. Robbing in enemy territory (including the Triads) may have a threat that they could shoot you. Aiming at sleeping pedestrians with a gun will cause them to wake up. If you shoot them in the head quickly enough, they will not sound the alarm and alert other residents in the house. If you shoot them in somewhere unfatal and a second shot it required to kill, the police will be alerted. Shooting all the residents in the head will remove the Noise Meter.
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 in 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 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 you reach 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 six, 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 rob.
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. Playa del Seville is also recommended, as there is a fork-in-the-road near the lockup that features smaller, easy-to-rob houses.
- There is a bug in the PC version 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 bug, 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 you kill them and re-enter the house, and all items in the house will be marked "unstolen," 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.¹
- Also, on the PC version there is a rare bug 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, because the game is assigned to pickup nearby items automatically it may cause the player to get uncontrolled when the player is near an item but is blocked by an obstacle. As the game will attempt to take the item but is blocking access. If you quit the burglar mission, you will still be stuck, and if you exit the game and then tap resume, the game may crash, meaning you must reload a save file.
- The only way to fix it is wait until the time limit ends, the player will then spawn outside.
- On the Mobile version, if CJ kills a occupant in a room that has an item in it with a non-silenced weapon then exits and re-enters the house before the 10 second countdown ends, one item in that house can be stolen unlimited times leading to massive rewards and also saving time.