Thief protection; Edited by Xena Dragon
Thief Proofing yourself | Monte Carlo strategy | Using traps against thiefs | Personal and Home Security
The Thief Forum
Thiefproofing Yourself, by Lady Harmony
This is an article to help you out in thiefproofing yourself. There are pros and cons to it, but based on the fact that I have not lost anything since January to a thief makes it well worth the trouble that you have to go through to do it. If you follow my suggestions and tips you should be able to live a relatively safe life without fear of being robbed. But like any theft deterrent, it can be gotten around, but it will take them some time and you are more likely to be passed up for an easier target. Think of it as putting "The Club" on your backpack.

First thing to do is get the right items. I use a small pouch, 10 spellbooks (in addition to my real spellbook, the one with spells in it - I keep this one separate from the rest to keep it from getting mixed up so I don't have to try and figure out which is which) and 3 deathrobes dyed "highlight" yellow. You can use less than this, but it will not be as effective and as with anything, if you skimp to save costs, you may end up paying for it in the long run. I like to be safe.

The basic method is to use the small pouch as your backpack, cover it with the spellbooks and deathrobes and leave nothing but newbie items or things you really don't care about getting stolen in the top layer of your main backpack.

Initially position the small pouch near the bottom of your main backpack (see picture) and make sure that a spellbook will completely cover it when it is dropped over it. Make absolutely sure it is completely covered since if the smallest sliver of it is exposed, the thief can easily gain access to the pouch by double clicking the sliver and snooping the pouch. You may have to work to get it in the exact spot, but it is not impossible. When dropping the spellbooks and deathrobes over the pouch, I drag them to the edge of my open backpack (see picture) and drop them. It took me a while, but I finally found the right spot for my pouch in the bottom of the backpack so I could line the spellbook's corner up with the minimize symbol and drop from there for better accuracy when dropping to cover the pouch.

So how do I access this covered pouch once it is covered you ask? Simple, before you start covering it, open it and minimize it using the <-> symbol at the bottom of it and never close it or your main backpack. This way you always have easy access to it while the thieves don't.

Here is the routine I always go through when logging in to the game. First, if you can, hide whenever you log out. This way you reenter the game hidden and don't have to worry about getting robbed when you first log in. Next after you have hidden and logged in, open your backpack. You may notice at this point that the pouch has "floated" to the top of the pile. This is OK, simply open it, and minimize it, then move the stuff carefully out from under it and off to the side for a moment. Once everything is cleared out from under it, start stacking the spellbooks on top one at a time, then finish with the deathrobes. If you happen to grab the pouch while trying to drag the stuff out from under it, don't fret, simply drop it onto a spellbook and it will return to it's original position - so you don't have to try and reposition it in that exact spot you spent so long finding in the first place. OK once you are all logged in and covered, minimize your main backpack and you are ready to go. Always remember to never close your pouch or main backpack and you are set for a worry free day on the town.

The next thing you need to be aware of is this. When crossing server boundaries the pouch can and sometimes does, float to the top of the stack again. No worry, I run off to a secluded spot and hide as fast as I can and reopen the main backpack and start restacking as I described above. The only way you will know if the pouch has floated to the top though is to actually close and reopen your main backpack. To you it will still look covered, but if you close and reopen the backpack, it refreshes the graphics to show you what is really there and how it is arranged. So please heed this advice. Whenever you cross a server boundary, close and reopen your backpack. It only takes about a minute and is well worth it over losing that Magic Viking sword you have in your pouch or your house keys.

There is a way around this protection though, and you will see why I use so many items to cover the pouch. The thieves have learned that if you grab the deathrobes or spellbooks and "fling" them aside fast enough, the graphics get out of sync and things start to "disappear" or are no longer visible in your backpack. What they will do is grab and toss as fast as they can until they have "uncovered" the pouch or can see it and can grab it before things snap back into place in their view. What the 10 spellbooks and 3 deathrobes do is delay these guys long enough so that if I don't stand in one place for too long they will never get to my pouch since when I walk off, my snooped backpack closes to them and they have to reopen it and start all over.

In dungeons I normally uncover the pouch since, on the odd chance I close my main backpack, I won't have to wade through 13 items to get to my stuff inside the pouch. But by virtue of the fact that your stuff is in the pouch, it will take the thief 2 snoops at least to get to your stuff. And you never have to worry about random theft as long as the pouch weighs over 10 stones, since they random steal from the top layer of your backpack only. Of course if you are like me, that pouch is more likely going to weigh over 100 stones, so you never have to worry about that limit.

For you inscribers out there who are saying "Well does that mean I have to carry 11 Full spellbooks?!?" (10 for the stack and your main one not in the stack). The answer is no. I have found that if you open your main spellbook, close it, then pick it up and drop it, you will inscribe out of that book.

I have been so successful with this method that the local thieves in Moonglow on the Chesapeake Shard don't even bother me anymore.

If anyone would like to roll up a snooper and come into Moonglow on Chessie, I will be glad to show them this technique and let them snoop my backpack and try to gain access to my pouch. All I ask in return is that in addition to choosing snooping as your main skill - take Cartography, Musicianship, Discordance, Provocation, Fishing, or Healing as your other skills and give me all your newbie items and clothes when we are done.

My backpack has a newbie sextant, 2 newbie daggers, a watch (newbie status from the holiday bags) and a newbie book for notes in the top layer. None of this stuff can be stolen so I keep it there.

Editors note: Instead of a spellbook, you can also use a newbie clothes item. They are unstealable and will cover a pouch quite easily.

- Lady Harmony

the Monte Carlo strategy, by HawkEye
There are two basic approaches for thief protection. The first is Lady Harmony's "Mt. Everest" strategy. The thief can't get through the mountain of stuff you've piled on your pouch before you move and make the thief start over again. Of course, with this strategy it is clear to the thief where the pouch is. Another basic approach is the "Monte Carlo" strategy, where the thief doesn't know where to look, and wastes time looking in the wrong places, giving you the opportunity to move away. Perhaps the most effective approache is a hybrid of the two or perhaps alternating use of the two. The Monte Carlo strategy and hybrids are discussed below.

As discussed in the U.Hall Message Board, some have recommended a pure Monte Carlo type strategy of using nested pouches: a pouch containing three or four pouches, with each of those pouches containing 2 or 3 pouches, etc. Thus, for example, the chances that a thief finds your real pouch on the first try for a 3-2-2 strategy are 1 in 12 ( 1/3 x 1/2 x 1/2 ). A hybrid approach would be to also cover the bottom pouch with a few death robes. I place a newbie item in the first layer of decoy pouches to avoid a stack of decoys from simply being eliminated by theft.

I think a better pure Monte Carlo strategy would be one using Lady Harmony's approach of making use of blank spell books, which can't be stolen and don't weigh anything. If a dozen such spell books are scattered about along with your full spell book, the thief has only a 1 in 13 chance of finding your pouch on the first try, a 1 in 12 chance on the second try, etc. Your pouch could be hidden under your real spell book but only you would know which one that is. Using this approach, you avoid all of the set-up work for the Mt. Everest strategy (carefully stacking spell books), and you never risk accidentally forgetting to reset to your main spell book, since it is the only spell book you need to touch. While this may be less protection than the Mt Everest approach in town, it is far more protection in dungeons. Note that in dungeons, Lady Harmony leaves the pouch unprotected in the main pack because of the risk of accidentally closing your pack, and having your vital equipment buried under stacks of stuff. (Actually, I'm a bit clumsy and have to worry about this when in combat in the wilderness as well). With the Monte Carlo approach, your pouch is only covered by your full spell book, and is easily accessed, and recovered even under stressful circumstances.

A hybrid strategy would be one that scatters piles of blank spell books instead of single spell books, making it more time consuming and frustrating for the thief to find the real pouch. Alternatively, or in addition, each pile could have a pouch underneath (perhaps with a newbie item in it), or perhaps a nested pouch.

There are lots of possibilities, depending on how you trade off cost versus weight versus town risk versus dungeon risk versus convenience. You could even use the Lady Harmony's pure Mt. Everest strategy in town and then scatter the same spell books to use a pure Monte Carlo strategy in a dungeon.

- HawkEye (archer-bard) aka Dragon's Breath (tank-mage) on Lake Superior

Using traps against thiefs, by Princess Diana
Everyone who has been playing UO long enough, should know to be very cautious while doing the following;
  • stand in a bank area, chatting, organizing your bank box.
  • stand around the smith shop busy making or repairing items and negotiating prices for your armor.
  • mining in a remote cave.
  • fighting with an animal or monster in dungeons or in Wind.
  • restocking your vendor.
If thieves steal from you in the first two situations, you will not lose much. You can just pretend they are beggars who have no skills in making a living, and you are being generous to them.
In the third case, a thief will steal your heavy ore off the ground, and of course, you will then attempt to take the ore back, soon you will realize that he has infact stolen your recall runes and black pearls, and the thief turns into a murderer, using your own reagents to cast spells upon you.
In the fourth case, most of the killers you will encounter do have stealing abilities, and you will usually end up dead and stuck in an area without a bank to resupply, like in Wind city.
In case five, which is the worst scenario, a thief hides on top of your vendor, steals your keyring with all your keys (which weighs 0 stones even if you have 200 keys on it) while you are restocking your vendor. Now you will end up losing your home. This was exactly the case done to my careless partner. Not only did we lose our house and all our belongings but also our guild tower.

Since then, I did a lot of thinking and research. Finally I came up with the best method for theft protection. Here is how it works:

  1. Buy yourself a GM tinker made lockable trap box. When triggered, it will deliver extreme damage to the person wearing opening the box, even if he/she is wearing 30 AR armor. Usually this results in instant death. Editors note: You can read all about trapping chest in the Tinker Traps essay.
  2. Copy 3 more keys for the trap box before you lock it up. Put 1 loose key in your bank box, the other 2 keys inside the same trap box, with one key on a key ring and the other key loose. Give the last key to whomever you usually travel with.
  3. Keep the trap box as your only level 2 bag, put ALL your backpack items inside the box except your spell book which cannot be stolen at all that way.
  4. Keep the trapped box picture OPEN at all times, even after you lock the box. You will just have to get used to playing with a smaller screen as the open box will block up a small corner of the screen.

If you use the loose key inside the box to lock and unlock the box, it will also ARM and DISARM the trap. Keeping the box in locked and armed condition is really good while you have to stand around in a high traffic area chatting or doing business.

If you use the key on the keyring to lock or unlock the box, it will not effect the box's current armed/disarmed status. (ie: if you locked & armed the box with the loose key, then unlock with the key on the keyring, the box will be unlocked but still remain armed!) A box in unlocked but armed condition is really good during a fight or while you are far away from the city... you will be hoping your enemy to steal from you by opening the box as it is your most powerful defensive weapon.

Now, the most inconvenient aspect of this method arises if you mistakenly close the picture of the box while it is armed. You will have to go back to the bank and use the loose key inside the bank box to : a) unlock and disarm the locked box, or b) lock the unlocked armed box first, then unlock it again to disarm it, or c) get your partner, who has your spare key, to pass you back the key to do the above.

The good side of this method is that even with the box locked and armed, as long as the box picture is still open, you can still eat the food from within, drink potions, cast scrolls, target the runes, target keys, target shovels etc. all without triggering the trap. You cannot cast spells however, a message will appear saying you have not enough regents.

The explosion will only go off only once, so it makes no sense to leave it unlocked and armed in town. Cheap town thieves will trigger it off and their dead corpse has no valuables for you to loot. But if you are far away from a city, always leave it in unlocked and armed position.

Now here is the best part. Whoever opens or lockpicks your armed box will certainly die, but you will not be flagged a criminal. (Editors note: who will gain the fame for the kill ?) The tinker who trapped the box will get the murder count if he trapped the box outside his own house. If the tinker trapped the box inside his house while the box was on the floor he will not get a murder count.

Since our house has been looted, I do now carry 2 traps inside my backpack, a trap chest inside a trap box, (trap box being level 2, trap chest being level 3). I keep all my stuff in level 3. When I tried out this method it took only a few days to get used to playing with these trapped boxes, not once did I kill myself. Nevertheless, I do suggest one should begin with a dart trapped box or a poison trapped box to get used to it before attempting to carry a GM Tinker made explosion trapped box such as mine!

For the past 2 weeks, I am always taking my time slowly restocking my tent vendor. And almost everytime, someone all dressed up in armor will come by and stand close to me. After a few seconds, I will hear KABOOM and a corpse will lie in the middle of the road. A ghost will appear and say ...OOOoo oOOOo oo.... I figure that he must be begging me to loot his gold and his armor! I've acquired thousands of arrows this way too!

For those who do not wish to bother with this method; God bless you!

For those adopting to this method; Good luck to all you thieves out there!

- Princess Diana, Pacific Shard

The Art of Personal and Home Security, by Carmella
'Tis a sad day in Britannia when the streets are thick with thieves and homes are violated freely, but such is the state of society today.

There are some methods that can be utilized to make a thieves job more difficult however, and teach a few cutpurses a lesson in manners in the process. This book covers activities anyone can do to help protect themselves from theft, both on their person, and in their homes.

Personal Security:

One method of making a thieves' life more difficult is by using a hide, a fur or a deathrobe in your pack to cover your more valuable possessions inside your pack. Deathrobes are particularly effective for this, since they cannot be stolen. Any item of this nature must be moved aside and the thief must be quick enough to try to steal from underneath the covering before it goes back to it's original position. This is not foolproof, but few thieves are quick enough or skilled enough to successfully steal when this method is employed. Keeping your possessions within a black dyed bag also makes them much harder to spot, especially if under a piece of black cloth or black dyed deathrobe. Remember to make this heavy - random stealing only works on the top level of a pack without snooping - but anything the thief is strong enough to cart away can be taken - even containers.

It is also good practice to keep valuables in your bank vault. This is just common sense, what you are not carrying, cannot be stolen.

Another method of discouraging thieves is the use of the trapped box. Extraordinary care must be given if these are used - as a trap has no friends, and will blow your head off as readily as a would-be bandits.

Lord British's laws have changed significantly in the making of traps - unless you are fully versed in the legal ways to do this - leave trapmaking up to the professional tinker. If a trap is illegally made, it is the tinkers responsibility, and they are the ones that will suffer the consequences. A traps strength also is dependent upon the tinkers skill at their craft. Trapping your own boxes can be done, but the trap is likely to be both weak, and also open you up to legal sanctions if made improperly. That said, I am only going to cover proper USE of these boxes in this text. Some things to know about trapped chests.

  • Only a lockable chest can be trapped.
  • Although a key on or off a keyring will open a trapped chest, only one OFF the keyring - a single key, will disarm the trap.
  • Trapped chests cannot be transferred within a trade window.

Now, let's take a mage for example, a trapped chest is an excellent place to keep reagents. Reagents can be used from within, as long as the box is not locked. If you carry a trapped box - NEVER forget and just open it, it will do YOU damage. If a thief snoops your pack, opens the box, THEY take the damage.

Here is the proper way to load and open a trapped chest - and arm for use.

  • Obtain a trapped chest.
  • Use the key on the chest singly, you will see a disarm and relock message.
  • Load the box, it is suggested that you make it over 12 or 13 stone, most thieves are not strong enough to steal more than that as a whole.
  • Place the key on a keyring, and unlock the chest.
At this point, the chest should be unlocked, armed - and quite dangerous to anyone unwise enough to be pawing about in your pack.

Home Security:

This same trapped box procedure can be done for home security purposes. Using the key by itself will allow you to use the chest - using the key while on a keyring will unlock and leave it armed. It is also quite dangerous - make sure ALL GUILDMEMBERS know if these are lying about. If you have been having problems with people breaking into your home, a few of these scattered about leave a lasting memory.

Traps come in 3 varieties, dart, poison and explosion. Explosion is the most powerful and effective of the three in most cases. Remember, the laws have changed. If you are uncertain of the legal ramifications of trapping yourself - leave it up to qualified tinkers.

Another means of home protection - at least if you are home, is the guardpet. Any pet will do for this purpose, place them inside your home, and instruct them to guard your door. Anyone not friended to the pet, that uses the door - becomes a criminal, and if you are home, you can take matters into your own hands without fear of incurring a murder penalty. Naturally, a pet dragon make a significantly better defense if you AREN'T home, but for alerting you, and letting you deal with a criminal in your home legally, a rabbit, cat or dog does just as well.

I hope this text helps clear up some of the mystery surrounding way to protect yourself and your property. On a sidenote - a fun thing to do although not strictly security related, is to carry a false set of keys in a more prominent spot than your real set as bait. This can be particularly humorous if you name the keys - or have so many on the ring that the thief becomes overloaded when opening. A set of 50 -100 is a humorous sight, they must sit there and pick each and every one up individually and do SOMETHING with them just to move. While on a keyring, keys weigh nothing, off a keyring, they weigh one stone each.


If you are carrying a trapped chest and use an outside program like UOAssist make SURE NOT to count reagents while carrying an unlocked trapped chest, many outside programs go thru your backpack and open containers to count, this WILL set off the trap.

It is also a good idea to carry a box of this nature inside another unique container - if it is your only chest, not a problem, if it is NOT your only chest - and you die and reclaim your things, you will be hardput to know which one is which. Using the key on it, or trying to pass it to someone is the only way to tell trapped from untrapped. Again, I cannot warn you strongly enough - these are excellent protection, but must be use cautiously for you own sake.