There are some obviously NPC-attached houses/places in the game, and it seems like NPC are completely fine if I search all their bookshelves, desks, etc. and take items stored there. Is doing such things somehow affects the game, or only stealing directly from NPC affects you?

That worries me is that I can take something, NPC will silently "ignore" this, but later that can have some consequences. In other words is it safe to take everything that don't causes immediate NPC reaction?

  • It's been a long time, but I do believe there are some containers that are considered owned, and you can't take things out of them without stealing.
    – agent86
    Mar 13, 2013 at 14:10
  • @agent86 so if I take item from that container NPC will immediately react somehow? I'm worry that I can take something, NPC will "ignore" this, but later that can have some consequences. Mar 13, 2013 at 14:15
  • As far as I'm aware, if you steal and get caught, they're hostile immediately.
    – agent86
    Mar 13, 2013 at 14:45
  • Stealing requires using a skill, I'm talking only about containers which are available to access with a simple cursor. Mar 13, 2013 at 15:53
  • Yeah, I think if you can just open it up and it doesn't roll your steal skill, you can take what you want for no penalty. As far as I know, if there's no immediate penalty, nobody cares.
    – agent86
    Mar 13, 2013 at 16:07

2 Answers 2


If a container is not owned by an NPC, you can take from it without consequence. Sometimes it is not obvious which containers are owned, and which aren't.

There are three common reactions which are immediately visible when you attempt to steal from NPCs. (this includes stealing directly from the NPC's person, as well as stealing from containers)

  1. The NPC will ignore it, and there will be no consequence whatsoever. This usually means that the container was not owned (by them) or they didn't see you taking items from it.
  2. The NPC will react negatively. This is usually indicated by dialogue which pops up over top of them.
    • If you are caught attempting to steal from a container or directly from an NPC's inventory, you will typically not receive the item(s) or XP in this failed attempt.
    • Multiple failed attempts at stealing (getting caught) will sometimes cause the associated NPC to enter combat and attack you.
  3. The NPC will attack you immediately.

There are some differences in success rate between stealing items off of an NPC, and stealing from a container which is owned by them.

Let us assume that we have a 50% success rate at stealing any item.

  1. When you steal from an NPC's person, there is a check for each item that you steal:
    • You open the inventory menu of an NPC to steal from them.
    • You take one item from their inventory.
    • A check is made to see whether or not you successfully stole the item. (50% chance to get this one item)
      • If you are caught: You don't get the item, the inventory screen closes, and one of the top 3 scenarios occurs.
      • If you weren't caught: You get the item, and repeat the process.
    • The odds are not in your favour at this rate since the check is made for each item.
  2. When you steal from a container which an NPC owns, only one check is made:
    • You open the inventory menu of the container which you are stealing from.
    • You can move as many items into your inventory as you want and no checks are made.
    • When you close the menu, a single check is made using the same chance to steal as you get when stealing just one item. (50% chance to steal all items selected)
      • If you are caught: You don't get the item, the inventory screen closes, and one of the top 3 scenarios occurs.
      • If you weren't caught: You get all of the items.
    • Your odds of stealing more items are much better as the check was only made once.

So, if you are stealing from a container, make it count and grab as much as you can. The penalties if you mess up are the same for stealing one item as they are for stealing one hundred items.

Note: Your chance of stealing an item is impacted by 3 factors:

  1. Your steal skill.
  2. Your sneak skill (if you have sneak turned on).
    • The NPC's visibility of you also affects your sneak success rate. If you are behind someone and sneaking+stealing, you have a better chance of success than attempting it in front of them.
    • Remember that light affects your sneak success rate.
  3. Perks which enhance your stealing abilities.

There is a lot of private containers in Vault City, there NPC will immediately react if you try to open container. However if NPC is not reacting it's either he/she doesn't care or they doesn't see you doing that. But even in latter case if they don't react it seems there is no consequences for taking their stuff.

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