Starfield Thief Builds

Gameplay of Starfield, showing the player pickpocketing an NPC

This guide will explain how to create the best Starfield thief builds. These builds are designed for players who prefer to complete missions and quests while remaining undetected and silent while filling their pockets with as much stolen loot as possible.

Starfield allows you to approach its quests in a variety of different ways. For those who prefer discretion but would still like to avoid being total pacifists, we suggest the Thief build that quickly lines up your pockets with money.

Best Background for Thief Builds

Starfield's character creation screen, showing the Cyber Runner background
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Credit: Bethesda
The perfect background for thievery

Choosing a background in Starfield will determine your character’s origin story and give you three starting skills. You can only pick one background, each providing a character with certain buffs, benefits, and NPC reactions.

The Cyber Runner background shines as the perfect choice for a build focused on being a sneaky thief. As with all backgrounds in Starfield, Cyber Runner offers unique dialogue choices and equips you with three primary skills.

These include Stealth, which boosts your sneak attack damage; Security, granting you the proficiency to open locks; and Theft, allowing you to pickpocket. All essential in Starfield for great thief builds.

Best Traits and Skills for Thief Builds

Starfield's character creation screen, showing the introvert trait
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Credit: Bethesda
Go solo with introvert

The Introvert trait will serve Starfield thief builds the best. Maintaining the ultimate concealment becomes vital to success when engaged in sneaky activities such as theft and burglary. The Introvert trait enhances your endurance during solitary travels while weakening it when in the company of other individuals.

If that doesn’t float your boat—or you want a companion—consider taking the Wanted trait instead. When low on health, this alternative provides a damage boost, but mercenaries will randomly attack as you progress through the game. However, companions will make sneaking around a lot harder.

If uncertain, it could be wise to avoid selecting a trait initially; remember that you can remove traits during gameplay. Traits are not permanent, and if a particular trait doesn't align well with your play style, you can get rid of it later.

For skills, you will want to choose those from the combat and physical skill branches.

  • Stealth: Stealth is essential to help you hide from enemies and gain sneak attack damage.
  • Theft: Learn how to pickpocket and steal from any NPC.
  • Security: Break through any lock and gain access to all the safes.
  • Manipulation: Turn NPCs into puppets and steal undetected as you get the ability to send them away.
  • Weight Lifting: You need the capacity to hold all those stolen goods.
  • Commerce: Get the best bargains when you buy or sell your goods.
  • Concealment: You no longer set off mines and gain even more sneak attack damage.
  • Isolation: Increased weapon damage and damage resistance when operating alone.
  • Lasers: If you prefer silenced lasers over Snipers, use this skill. A Stealth Equinox might be your best friend.
  • Pistol Certification: If you want to feel like a truly stealthy operative, a silenced pistol might be your weapon of choice.
  • Armor Penetration: Increases damage dealt through armor to tanky enemies.

Learn how to level the most essential stealth skills quickly.

Best Weapons and Armor for Thief Builds

Starfield gameplay, showing the player character pick-pocketing an NPC
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Credit: Bethesda
Quietly does it

With these builds, you should avoid combat like the plague—you are a thief, but even the best thieves sometimes get caught and have to defend themselves. However, you'll still have to deal with combat during many main story and faction quests. Here are the weapons suitable for a thief that you should bring along.

Despondent Assassin

The Despondent Assassin is one of the most powerful silenced sniper rifles you can get early on. It's perfect for one-shotting enemies from afar due to its hitman bonus, and unlike the more powerful MagSniper, it won't alert nearby enemies.

starfield theif build weapon despondent assassin
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You'll have to complete the Akila City quest trio that starts with Defensive Measures after seeing an argument occur to the left of Rowland Arms. After this, complete False Positives and Leader of the Pack to get your Despondent Assassin.

Assassin's Solstice

Try using the Assassin's Solstice if a Sniper Rifle doesn't feel at home. This powerful laser weapon features silenced beams that will allow you to pick off enemies while still feeling stealthy quickly. It's a common weapon that you can mod or pick off any enemy.

Unmitigated Violence

The Unmitigated Violence is a legendary late-game weapon. This assault rifle features silenced laser beams and some of the most powerful stats on any assault rifle-type weapon. The ability to apply burns from Lasers while availing all the stealth damage bonuses and rifle bonuses turns it into a beast that can shred any enemy in your sights within seconds.

starfield thief build weapon unmitigated violence
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You'll have to choose between the Emissary or Hunter to get this weapon.

Any Weapon with a Suppressor

If the weapons above didn't seem fitting for a thief build, you don't have to worry. Any weapon can be turned into a stealth weapon if you can add a suppressor mod to its barrel. Our favorite suggestions include the Equinox and Grendel for early-game thief builds.

Best Armors

For the best armor for thief builds you'll want something light that lets you move around quickly. There isn't any specific legendary armor set readily available for this. However, there are certain affixes and armor bonuses that you should be on the lookout for. These include:

  • Chameleon - Improved Stealth
  • Gravitic Composites - Reduced enemy detection
  • Mechanized/Fastened - Increased carry capacity
  • Hacker - 2 more auto attempts when lockpicking
  • Analyzer - Increased damage to scanned targets

How To Pick Locks

Picking a lock is not only a staple of Thief Build but a staple of Bethesda games. Picking locked doors, crates, and storage containers is standard practice for any build, but a thief will want to know exactly how to do this.

The chronomark watch is shown on the players wrist
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First, you will want to get some Digipicks; these function the same way as standard lockpicks have done in the past. Make too many wrong moves, and your Digipick will be lost, forcing you to use another or quit altogether.

With lock picking in Starfield, the mini-game involved differs from previous Bethesda titles. Instead of rotating a physical lock, you need to fill all the empty slots in each layer to unlock. Rotate each key till it fits, and don't make too many mistakes, or you may find yourself out of Digipicks altogether.

Remember that if you exit the mini-game after starting, you will lose a Digipick for doing so. Additionally, Digipicks can be lost by hitting 'Undo' during the minigame, so be mindful when using that feature.

Player stands posing for a photo
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Upgrading your security skill will be crucial for unlocking the hardest of locks and also allows you to auto-slot the keys multiple times when ranked up. Also, each security lock has an assigned level that your rank must match to attempt an unlock - Advanced Rank 1, Expert Rank 2, and Master Rank 3.

You will gain XP for trying to lock-pick: the Novice locks reward 5XP, and Advanced locks reward 10XP, so we recommend attempting each lock you come across to boost your rank up to the higher levels to take on more challenging locks.

How To Pickpocket

Pickpocketing is another Bethesda game staple, which is an excellent way to get extra credits - if you don't get caught. Learning how to pickpocket can be a game of trial and era at first, but with practice, you will be swiping goods from the best of them.

the player stands in neon city
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First, you must unlock pickpocketing by owning the Theft skill; you can get this skill via a few methods. If you chose the Cyber Runner or Gangster background, you will have Theft as a starting skill and are good to go.

However, if you did not pick one of those, you must unlock the Theft skill using the Social skill tree. Leveling up by gaining XP is the way to unlock more skills; we recommend getting the Stealth skill as soon as possible, as Stealth is essential when pickpocketing.

Once you are all set with your sneaky new skills, your next job is to find a target. Choosing someone who is around a lot of other people is a surefire way to get caught, even for the most experienced thieves out there.

Hand outstretched ready to use space magic
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We suggest finding someone clear from the view of others or following a character until they are in a more secluded place. The Stealth Skill will show you a bar displaying your visibility while sneaking around. Knowing how this bar works is a key factor for successful pickpocketing.

If the bar is white, you are hidden, and your target is unaware of your presence. When it turns green, you have been detected and will be caught if you break any laws. The orange bar means they are aware of you but have not found you yet, and the red means they are fully aware, and combat has begun.

So, it is best to attempt pickpocketing when the bar is white; if it is any other color, then failure becomes a greater possibility. When your target is out of the view of other characters, and the bar is white, sneak carefully up behind them until the 'Pickpocket' prompt is displayed.

Player sneaks up to pickpocket npc
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Pressing the button displayed will let you see exactly what items are in your target's possession and the difficulty of taking each. Blue is the easiest, then green, yellow, red, and grey. A grey item is impossible to take without getting caught in the act.

Select the items you want to attempt to take and press the button prompt. If successful, you will now have the chosen items in your inventory; if you fail, you could be in some hot water, potentially even facing jail time.

While you are here, why not check out some of our other guides and articles like Starfield Demolition Build or the Infinite Money Exploits?

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For more articles like this, take a look at our Guides and Builds page.