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Recently a team that I have been playing with and I have been trying to stealth through a variety of levels, attaining limited success with Nightclub raids and Bank Heists, while successfully completing day 3 of Framing Frame without getting spotted. It wasn't easy through and required a lot of trial and error and at times seemingly being spotted by guards through walls from the other side of the level (or at least it feels like it).

Additionally, when it comes to cameras, what makes the difference between breaking a camera resulting in detection or not? Often I have shot cameras with no repercussion but at times shooting a camera will result in a near immediate alarm, even with no guards present.

I'm trying to work out what circumstances result in aggression/detection/calling of the police and currently have this list down as something like the following;

  • Civilian saw something suspicious
  • Civilian saw a body
  • Civilian heard gunshots
  • Guard saw a body
  • Guard saw a player
  • Pager wasn't answered/answer attempt failed
  • Bumping into a guard while casing
  • Camera saw a body
  • Camera saw a player
  • Camera was broken
  • Camera saw broken glass

Are there any other actions that I've missed that would result in being detected and the police being called?

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    Just to note, but there is a camera in the bank heist on the second floor outside, that you can't shoot with a silenced gun for some strange reason, they always seem to hear the camera break. But if you punch it, there is no problem. – Lyrion Sep 13 '13 at 8:59
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    @Lyrion - That's because of the sound mechanic: Sound expands like a bubble around the player (even trough objects). A silencer only decreases this bubble, so it's possible that guards/civilians can hear you. Melee is pretty silent, though. – 5pike Sep 13 '13 at 9:04
  • @Lyrion It depends where you shoot and which silencer you use. – 3ventic Sep 13 '13 at 9:23
  • I've had alarms go off after a guard saw a camera we took out. – Niro Sep 13 '13 at 10:54
  • @Lyrion: this is the bank's roof curse: NEVER use guns over there, even with silencers, it ALWAYS ends bad. Melee only ;) I think that guns alert civilians in the buildings around, something like that. – Anto Sep 13 '13 at 14:23
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From The Long Guide by Frankelstner - detailing stealth mechanics analyzed from the extracted game files:

Terms used:

  • "Cool" refers to the state of person or camera during stealth when he/it has no exclamation mark.

  • Once the person or camera has an exclamation mark or alarm goes off, there is no going back: The subject can never become cool again. I refer to this state as "uncool". Dead or broken subjects are not included.


Stealth - Alerts

Alerts are noise and instantly turn people in hearing range uncool. In the context of this game, alerts mean that neither the orientation of the head nor obstacles make any difference and that the person becomes uncool instantly without becoming suspicious first.

Human observers become alerted by the following:

  • Glass breaking (range: 12 m)
  • ECM feedback (range: 100 m)
  • Gunshots (range: 25 m when enemies shoot, usually 45 m with player weapons)
  • Gunshot impacts (range: 1/4 of the gunshot noise)
  • Grenade/Flashbang explosions (range: 100 m)
  • Trip mine explosions (range: 50 m)
  • Taking fall damage (range: 2.5 m)
  • Civilian screams upon becoming uncool and at various other times (range: 2 m)
  • Civilian or enemy screams when experiencing moderate or heavy hurt or death (range: 6 m without Shinobi or Hidden Blade aced, else 0.25 m). Even handcuffed guards scream. Non-lethal melee attacks against civilians cause no scream.

Unless you shoot in the sky, every gunshot ends with a gunshot impact. The noise origin is the impact location. Technically, gunshot impact alerts are of the same type as gunshot alerts. As a result, gunshot impacts may cause alarm on day 1 of Big Oil, but they can also be used together with Control Freak to intimidate civilians.

When your gun has issued a gunshot alert (i.e. you have fired your gun), subsequent gunshot alerts by the gun are blocked for 1.5 seconds, unless the origin of the alert differs by more than 5 meters. Whether you fire your CAR-4 once or 15 times within 1.5 seconds to control civilians with Control Freak, they both issue just a single gunshot alert. There is a separate but pretty much identical block for gunshot impact alerts, where the 5 meters rule has a greater effect.

All player weapons have an alert range of 45 meters with the following exceptions: Brenner, KSP. MG42, R93, Thompson, Queen's Wrath, Lion's Roar, minigun, Lebensauger have an alert range of 40 meters. The Thanatos has a range of 35 meters. The saw also causes gunshot and gunshot impact alerts and has an alert range of 35 meters when not using up the blade (2 m if silenced), else 75 meters (8.5 m if silenced). The flamethrower has an alert range of 300 m. The grenade launchers and RPG do not cause gunshot alerts.

All weapons with an alert range of 45 meters have their alert range reduced to 1 m when silenced (thus their gunshot impacts have a mere 0.25 m range). Weapons with an alert range of 40 meters or less (except saw) have their alert range reduced to 0 when silenced.

Uncool civilians cannot hear anything but gunshots (and gunshot impacts) caused by the players. Control Freak basic fully intimidates civilians when hearing a single gunshot alert. When hearing too many gunshots of players without Control Freak basic in quick succession, untied civilians will stand up no matter their intimidation level (only Dominator aced blocks this). This being said, due to the 1.5 seconds cooldown it is virtually impossible for a single player to make a civilian freak out and flee.

Uncool enemies cannot hear anything but gunshots (and gunshot impacts) caused by the players. Technically, they were supposed to listen to explosions and glass breaking caused by the players as well. However, the function used by HE rounds, hand grenades and the grenade launchers explicitly claim that the cause of the noise is the group of civilians and enemies, but not the players. As a result, any alerts caused by that function are ignored by uncool enemies. Breaking glass also does not work correctly and is ignored by enemies. Thus enemies behave like civilians in that regard and will react to gunshots only (and maybe trip mines). Enemies prefer to target players whose alerts have been heard and may also decide to shoot due to alerts.


Stealth - Alarm

There are 4 different ways alarm can be raised:

  • An uncool person (guard or civilian or gangster) calls the police.
  • A camera is uncool.
  • A pager is left unanswered or answered unsuccessfully.
  • Map-specific triggers. Usually motion sensors (lasers) or alarm buttons.

Basic ECMs disable the first two triggers as long as they are active. With the ECM pager skill, alarm is raised only by map-specific triggers.

There are three ways to figure out if alarm has been raised:

  • All exclamation marks suddenly disappear simultaneously despite the enemies still being alive.
  • A text message appears on the screen. Some map-specific alarm triggers do not show any message at all (Rats day 2, Big Oil day 1, Firestarter day 1, Framing Frame day 3), or are otherwise incorrect (alarm buttons on Trustee bank).
  • The music changes.

On Big Oil especially, if you are not the person stealthing it, the only reliable method of figuring out if there has been alarm is paying attention to the music, as there is no alarm message and the disappearing exclamation marks might be due deaths. Conversely, as long as you can see a single exclamation mark, you are still in stealth as no alarm has been raised yet.


Excerpts from 'Dispelling Common Misconceptions' Reddit /r/paydaytheheist post by KarateF22:

  • Civilians are alerted by bags: They only care about body bags and only at close range. Guards, gangsters, and cameras do care about all bags, however.
  • You can stop a camera alarm after detection with ECM or by killing the operator: False. Operators aren't even alerted when the camera is; once a camera fully alerts stealth is guaranteed to fail in 7 seconds.
  • Grenades sound the alarm on Big Oil Day 1: Hilariously they do not. Gunshots and the saw still will however, so be wary of that.
  • Shinobi Ace is useful: Kinda. It works as claimed for clients in a game. However, there is currently a bug where hosts always silently kill targets, regardless of having the skill or not, which makes this much less useful if you host frequently.
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5

Based on my experience, cameras can be safely broken as long as no one detects the broken camera and you are not on Big Oil Day 1. (The moment the crooks see a broken camera feed, they go on alert. There might be more of these missions.)

On some missions there will be a guard who comes and checks the camera after it has been broken, you have to take care of this guard.

Here are two more causes for alert, which were not mentioned in the question:

  • Camera detected a loot bag (or coke bag in Framing Frame Day 3)
  • Camera detected suspicious activity, such as civilians panicking, a guard pointing his gun or a broken window.
  • Walking or tossing bags into lasers (not sure what the actual description that appears says)

Also, bumping into a guard while casing doesn't cause an alarm, but forces you to put your mask on. The guard will then often try to shoot and others might see you and call the pager/police.

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  • coke bag in Framing Frame day 3, surely? – kalina Sep 13 '13 at 10:27
  • @kalina Yes, of course. – 3ventic Sep 13 '13 at 10:47

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