Fact Check

Burglar Discovers Suicide

A burglar discovered a suicide in the home he'd broken into.

Published Jun 23, 2013

Claim:   A burglar discovered a suicide in the home he'd broken into.


Origins:   On 19 June 2013 a would-be burglar in New Zealand made a gruesome discovery in a vacant home. Just after midnight, after entering a lit hallway in the otherwise darkened home, he "stumbled across the dead body hanging in the dark," as the New Zealand Herald put it.

Said encounter prompted the young man to run screaming into the night, with neighbors of the deceased hearing him

shout "He's dead, he's dead."

The affrighted burglar raced to his mother's home a few doors away and from there telephoned police to report the grisly find and turn himself in.

Police arrested the man for the break-in burglary but released him later that morning. Hamilton city tactical co-ordinator Senior Sergeant Freda Grace said no charges had been laid.

The deceased took his own life and had been dead for no more than a day.

This real-life occurrence of a burglar's encountering a suicide while going about his business shares a few similarities with an urban legend that dates to at least 1979. In that far-fetched yarn, a man's attempt to throw a good scare into his wife by faking his own death by hanging not only has the intended effect upon his spouse, but leads to the demise of the neighbor who came when the wife screamed but stayed to help herself to a few things.

Barbara "good fences make good neighbors and happy burglars, and sometimes the two are the same" Mikkelson

Last updated:   23 June 2013


    Akoorie, Natalie.   "No Charges Likely for Burglar Who Found Body."

    New Zealand Herald.   20 June 2013.

    Akoorie, Natalie.   "Neighbours Woken by 'He's Dead' Yell."

    New Zealand Herald.   21 June 2013.

    Chapman, Paul.   "Burglar Rings Police After Bumping Into Dead Body While Robbing House."

    The Telegraph [UK].   20 June 2013.

    UPI.   "Burglar Stumbles Into Hanging Body of Suicide."

    20 June 2013.