There is currently a thief in my fortress and I do not know what to do with him. So, what can be done about a thief?

2 Answers 2


Thieves come in two varieties: goblins and kobolds. Kobolds aim to steal items while goblins aim to steal your children! Parents of course become very distraught when their children are snatched away.

Dealing with thieves is easy: spot them before they take anything. A found thief will run away without a fight. Thieves are invisible (to you) until they are spotted, but they are on the map. Any dwarf and tamed animal near the thief has a chance to spot it. So to increase your odds of spotting any incoming thieves, it is typical to chain a pet near your entrances. (This doesn't block caravans.)

It is also worth noting that doors and traps will not stop all thieves.

It is also possible of course for your military to deal with thieves, but they're quick so your best bet is just to prevent them from getting to the goods.

  • So, if a thief is spotted and my fortress doesn't have military there is nothing to do but to prevent him from accessing my goods by closing a door or something, right?
    – user5781
    Dec 29, 2010 at 18:17
  • Goblin thieves can be caught in cage traps, etc, as only kobold thieves have the [TRAP_AVOID] tag. Dec 29, 2010 at 18:36
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    A spotted thief will immediately attempt to flee your fortress. It won't drop anything it has already stolen, but it won't try to steal anything else. If they have stolen something and you really want to get it back (i.e. a child) cage traps are your best bet (but of course you have to have those set up in advance).
    – JavadocMD
    Dec 29, 2010 at 18:40
  • @RavenDreamer I seem to recall that invisible goblin thieves will bypass traps, and only be caught in them after they're spotted. Are you saying this is untrue?
    – JavadocMD
    Dec 29, 2010 at 18:50
  • yes. Dec 29, 2010 at 20:21

In order to deal with thieves in my fortresses, I always lay out my entrances no wider than three tiles and chain a tamed animal on either side of the entrance one tile in. Doing this will ensure that the thief can't get into the fortress without being spotted by at least one of the animals. Once spotted, a thief will do its best to flee and will only stop if attacked by another unit.

Since your dwarves will sometimes need to go outside to fish/gather plants/chop wood/vomit/etc., you may also want to wall in a patch of the surface and create another entrance leading to that. Additionally, you should set your meeting zone indoors or within the walled-in area so that your fort's children will stay where any goblin kidnappers will be forced to go through your chained animals to get to them.

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    I often do two pairs of double doors with a single spacer in between, allowing for a five column entrance for high traffic but with proper doors. Chaining three animals equally spaced across this detects thieves. Mar 27, 2012 at 20:14
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    Trade caravans need a three-tile-wide route to your depot, which is probably why he uses that size for entrances.
    – Shadur
    May 3, 2012 at 10:51
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    Correct. I like to place my depot well inside my fortress so I can protect it, if necessary.
    – edsobo
    May 29, 2012 at 17:56

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