I'm now a Thane in Whiterun - I was caught picking a simple lock in an inconsequential area and I was able to pull rank and tell the guards that they should remember who they're talking to, and they told me that they'd let it go but that I should be more careful.

Is that just talk, or can I get away with things repeatedly?
I'm guessing that I can't murder people and then claim diplomatic immunity, but can I always get away with low level crimes like picking locks or pickpocketing?
Is there a (daily?) limit after which I'm arrested?
Does it matter which guard sees me?

Aspiring supervillains want to know.

  • I think you can only use this privilege once, so you might've wasted it on a small crime since it forgives everything up to 3000.
    – l I
    Dec 8, 2011 at 12:24
  • If your bounty is really low, like from a single lockpicking, just say "Do you really have time for this?" No reason to use the Thane option.
    – agf
    Dec 8, 2011 at 12:41
  • I've already done it and saved, I didn't think it might be a one-off. Drat! Any official source for this or just play experience?
    – Alex
    Dec 8, 2011 at 12:52
  • @Alex uesp says only once, personally I haven't had the need to use it more than once in a hold since I rarely get caught ;)
    – l I
    Dec 8, 2011 at 13:11
  • 1
    @yx. don't sass me, I don't get caught either! I was testing the system! :P
    – Alex
    Dec 8, 2011 at 14:13

4 Answers 4


I know this is an old question, but since I have not seen a definition of what happens here it goes. Basically being a thane means that the guards will clear a bounty of up to 3000 gold once per hold. It does not matter which guard sees you or how many crimes you have committed, so long as your bounty is less than 3000 you can have it cleared by declaring thaneship when the guard attempts to arrest you. Once you have used this privilege you will need to start paying the bounty just like everybody else.

See UESP article on Bounty - Declaring Thaneship.


The crimes are:

  • Murder
  • Theft
  • Murder of animals (e.g. chickens)
  • Stealing (animals or objects)
  • Pickpocketing.
  • Assault (depends - sometimes you can get away with fist fighting!)
  • Being a vampire (at the later stages - you get attacked on sight!)
  • Transforming into a werewolf in front of people (attacked on sight)

And also, I'm pretty sure if you join the Stormcloaks, the guards of the empire will try and kill you.

  • 2
    This answers what the title makes the question seem to be, but you should read the full question text.
    – Sterno
    Feb 5, 2012 at 13:44

There is no limit to small crimes like pickpocket, but what you might want to do if you do those small things is sheath your weapons.

PS: For lockpicking you might want to check out the perk tree because at level 40 I believe you are able to do it without being noticed.

  • Yeah I noticed that perk, I've got my eye on it :)
    – Alex
    Dec 8, 2011 at 12:52

Certain laws can be...bent, as a thane. The laws that the Kings power does not teach are as following:

Murder- of humans and animals- 1000 bounty. Assault- of humans and animals- 40 bounty.
Theft- stealing objects that aren't labeled as 'take'- Depends on the worth of the object stolen.
Pick pocketing- stealing objects from the victims inventory (always fun to pickpocket the yarl)- again bounty depends on the item stolen.

(There is no limit to how much thane can get, as long as you haven't stolen/pickpocketed/murdered/assaulted someone)

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