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In Skyrim, I only pickpocket bandits (basically to raise my skill level with no chance of detrimental effects), and only right before I kill them. However, when I left a bandits' hideout recently, there were thugs waiting outside with a contract signed by a bandit. Is the lag between pickpocketing and killing enough that the bandit could have hired a thug?

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Yes, dead targets can send thugs after you. If I remember from looking at the script itself, it triggers right as you steal something and will spawn thugs as one of your next few encounters.

If the target is dead, it's incidental as far as the bandits are concerned.

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  • 3
    Every will in Skyrim probably has some legal boilerplate that looks like: "I leave my patrol route to my heirs, and if anyone's stolen from me send thugs to beat them up" – Tacroy Jul 11 '12 at 16:19
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Even if the NPC is dead, he or she will still send thugs. Actually the game just puts a random NPC name in the contract. Thugs are sent to kill you because you probally stole things. So far I completed the Hermause Mora Quest of Septimus is gone but a few days later I killed some thugs and there was a note from him. However if you never stole anything and thugs are still after you, then steal stuff and then thugs will kill you and then I will be fixed.

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