There is quite a lot of nice stuff just laying around, useful and valuable items that their owners are not actually making good use of. I'm currently saving the world in sub-standard equipment, so I was thinking of just taking what really should have been mine in the first place.

What are the consequences of stealing stuff in Skyrim? Are there only consequences if I'm seen stealing anything, or do I get something like "bad karma" even if nobody ever sees me take anything?

  • 4
    Guilty conscious.
    – Arkive
    Nov 11, 2011 at 6:48
  • 4
    @Arkive the word you want is 'conscience', not 'conscious.' Unless you really mean 'guilty awake'. This has been a message from your friendly, local, Gaming.SE Pedant. Have a nice day! Nov 11, 2011 at 11:33
  • Yes, you are correct. Too much Skyrim, not enough sleep.
    – Arkive
    Nov 11, 2011 at 16:32
  • Not so much a consequence, but you can't sell stolen stuff back to the person you stole it from :( :P
    – Mr Smooth
    Nov 12, 2011 at 3:18
  • I accidentally stole in Riverwood, and the game won't let me talk to the guy I need to talk to in order to advance because he, and everybody else, is attacking me. What can I do?
    – user14386
    Nov 15, 2011 at 9:57

5 Answers 5


Generally, when nobody's looking, you're safe: on the other hand, stealing—and getting caught—will place a bounty on your head for half the item's value.

There aren't any permanent consequences for stealing in front of witnesses, but they will eventually report you to the authorities, which will start the bounty and alert the guards.

There is a small chance that you rob from someone who can tell when you stole something from them, even if nobody's around. The consequence of doing that is a set of hired thugs sent after you. This seems to only happen once: if you defeat the thugs, you're safe until the next high-value theft.

  • 2
    So you have to be caught for it to cause problems?
    – Ivo Flipse
    Nov 13, 2011 at 7:08
  • 10
    Do notice that 'if there are no witnesses' can also mean 'if there are no witnesses... left'. If you can kill witnesses fast enough, the bounty will be revoked.
    – Konerak
    Nov 13, 2011 at 14:08
  • 3
    @Konerak: Good point and it should also be noted that a horse of an enemy is considered a witness.
    – Kredns
    Dec 10, 2011 at 8:34

I've recently had a run in with some hired bandits who had a contract on them. Apparently, someone I stole stuff from hired them to attack me and try to kill me as revenge. I'm pretty sure no one saw me stealing, but I guess they figured it out somehow.

So there are some consequences.

  • This is important -- you need not get caught for there to be consequences. That said, I've stolen 30k+ and only had one set of "hired thugs" come after me so far.
    – agf
    Nov 16, 2011 at 0:44
  • 1
    I had this happen as well; one of the thugs had a note on him that suggested to me who figured out I stole from him.
    – user6789
    Nov 16, 2011 at 18:16
  • This is proof that some people of Skyrim are time-travellers who brought CCTV-equipment back with them. How else can they know that you stole from them? DNA-evidence?
    – Lars Ebert
    Jul 11, 2014 at 10:07

If you really intentionally do a lot of bad to a city, and they see it all, you will...

  1. ...get a bounty, high enough so you can't really pay it anytime soon.

  2. ...will be followed / found in the nearby areas of the city, if you use the wait system you are suddenly surrounded by an angry group of guards and persons that have passed by. Some of these might have been hired to do, these type usually travel farther than the average person.

  3. ...upon paying/losing the bounty or going to jail; when you return to your city, they will be funny and will be for example searching for a thief with your name but the opposite gender of your character, and they will be complaining about the security/guards of the city not finding the thief.

    This last thing, are only scripted dialogs and have no further effect on your standing.

If you aren't detected while stealing, or your chances are lucky, they won't even know you stole things.


In the start I went with the advar(is that his name but whatever the imperial guy) to his uncles house. Over there I took a headwear thing which was tagged red and nothing happened. After that I took the iron armour too and the lady said that's not urs. At last I took a blacksmith potion and she got pissed and started punching me and I killed her. After that everyone including my friend and his uncle with the whole damn village was trying to kill me


I've had thugs out for me with a contract for stealing something when undetected. This usually happens if the person you stole from doesn't have many visitors and can tell after you left stuff is missing. ALSO i have stolen from a shop before, and afterwords the owner of the place, an argonian fellow, followed me everywhere in the store watching me. I was never reported to authorities or had a bounty out for me for that steal. I think it's because I was undetected and lots of people visit that tavern. But the owner did automatically become suspicious and now follows me every time I'm in the tavern.

  • Doesn't answer the question.
    – Jim Jones
    Aug 1, 2016 at 3:30
  • Sure it does: thugs stalk you and shopkeepers follow you, although shopkeepers tend to follow me even though I haven't stolen anything. Aug 1, 2016 at 4:36

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .