Starfield Thief Builds

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Gameplay of Starfield, showing the player pickpocketing an NPC

In this guide, we’re gonna be explaining 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 is still a few weeks away, so naturally we don’t everything about the game yet. But we’ll update this guide when the game launches with the full information added.

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, and each will provide a character with certain buffs, benefits, and NPCs 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 decode passwords, bypass security measures and locks; and Theft, further refining your character's skill in pick-pocketing. All three skills are going to come in useful when playing a thief build, especially Theft and Security, which will make breaking into NPC’s houses and pick-pocketing them a piece of cake. 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. When engaged in sneaky activities such as theft and burglary, maintaining the ultimate concealment becomes vital to success. 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 really want a companion—consider taking the Wanted trait instead. This alternative provides a damage boost when low on health, but mercenaries will randomly attack as you progress through the game.

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

For skills, you’re going to want to choose those from the combat and physical skill branches. Important skills for this build will be Stealth, Concealment, Theft, and Scavenging. These will make robbing and stealing from NPCs that much easy, and perhaps more profitable.

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, after all, but even the best thieves sometimes get caught and have to defend themselves. I’d recommend taking a suppressed or perhaps an SMG to take down your target, alerting no one else.

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 wris
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First, you will want to get yourself 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 is quite different 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.

Keep in mind 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 gives you the ability 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

Another Bethesda game staple, pickpocketing, is a good way to get some 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 will need to actually 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 will need to unlock the Theft skill using the Social skill tree. Levelling up by gaining XP is the way to unlock more skills; we would recommend saving up enough for the Stealth skill also, 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 would suggest finding someone who is 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 that displays how visible you are while sneaking around. Getting to know how this bar works is a key factor for successful pickpocketing.

If the bar is white, that means 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, 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, then you could be in some hot water, potentially even facing some jail time.

With this build, you’re gonna be avoiding all-out combat, so armor with high defence will not be a necessity. We know little about Starfield’s equipment at the moment, but we know it is possible to get legendary armor with powerful traits—so getting something that buffs theft and stealth will be great for thief builds.

While you are here, why not check out some of our other guides and articles like Starfield Demolition Build, or Play Starfield Without a Console or PC?

For all things Starfield, stick with us at Starfield Portal.

For more articles like this, take a look at our Pre-Release Guides , Guides , and Builds pages.