cover image A Burglar’s Guide to the City

A Burglar’s Guide to the City

Geoff Manaugh. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $16 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-0-374-11726-9

Architecture blogger Manaugh (The BLDGBLOG Book) turns the building world inside out in this fascinating view of the modern city as seen through the eyes of a potential burglar. Noting that “burglary requires architecture,” he shows how burglars deconstruct a seemingly stable building environment into a “Matrix space... of dissolving and pop-up entryways through to other worlds.” They not only navigate air ducts, elevator shafts, and rooftops to gain access to interiors, but sometimes turn regulations intended to safeguard buildings into break-in blueprints. Observing that “cities get the type of crime their design calls for,” Manaugh shows how Los Angeles’s freeway system facilitates the “stop-and-rob” bank heists that made it “the bank robbery capital of the world” in the 1990s, and how, in the late ’80s, one enterprising gang of crooks used the city’s storm sewer system to tunnel into a bank vault and nab millions in loot. Manaugh supports his analyses of these weak spots in urban architecture with abundant insights and observations from law enforcement officers, security specialists, and self-identified burglars, and laces the text with thrilling accounts of audacious burglaries. Readers of this illuminating study will never look at the buildings and cities they live in the same way. (Apr.)