The ability to make things of others your own. Can be used to steal from people or places.”— In-game description
A characters starting Steal skill is 20% + (1% x Agility). This is 25% for the average human.
Maximizing the Odds
Stealing is a tricky business which can, when done wrong, end in combat inevitably followed by one party's death. A good thief will work to avoid this outcome. To do so he must know how to maximize his odds based on the type of theft.
Regardless of the type of theft, a failed attempt to steal from an unfriendly character will likely result in combat, while a friendly one will speak up, showing floating text along the lines of "Get away from there." Pressing your Luck with a friendly character can cause that character to become unfriendly.
Often, unattended items are in locked and/or trapped containers, making Lockpick and Traps essential skills for these heists. Even unattended items stored in plain sight or unlocked containers may require unlocking doors or thwarting traps along the way to the item. In some cases the thief may need to sneak past guards to gain access to the item. However, this situation dangerously borders on Attended Items below.
Attended items and containers have the same acquisition problems as their unattended counterparts, with the additional complication of a guard in the immediate vicinity. Sneaking will help; but with a sober guard in the immediate vicinity the odds are against the thief.
The simplest solution, of course, is to kill the guard. This can be done via combat or by more insidious means, such as poison. If there are other guards in the area combat will catch their attention, possibly presenting the thief with overwhelming odds.
However, combat and poison are not the only ways to bypass a guard. A guards ability to stop a theft comes from the ability to notice the theft. Reducing a guards Perception increases a thief's chances of going unnoticed, as does Sneaking. This can be done by slipping the guard a few doses of Rot Gut or Booze. Four or five doses often allow a thief to make off with the goods with the guard none the wiser.
In Fallout 3/ Fallout New Vegas, since you are able to carry things, you can drag the item away to a spot that is hidden. Once in the hidden spot, steal the item, and no one has seen you.
Sometimes it's necessary to relieve someone of an item on his person. This is called pickpocketing and utilizes the Steal skill. The person being relieved is the Mark and the person doing the relieving is the Pickpocket.
When pickpocketing consider the following:
- The Mark's Perception rating.
- A higher Perception means a higher chance of being caught. Consider lowering the Mark's Perception with Rot Gut.
- The Mark's facing
- The odds of success are lowest if you are face-to-face with the Mark. Approach the Mark from the side or rear.
- The weight of the object lifted
- Heavier objects are more likely to be missed; likewise, lighter objects are less likely to be missed.
When practicing Pickpocketing first dull the Marks senses with Rot Gut, approach from the side or rear, then try lifting a single chip, stimpak or other light item. This is more likely to succeed than directly facing a sober Mark and lifting a microfusion cell or turbo plasma rifle.
Experience: Pickpocketing give experience as follows; 10 for the first item, 20 for the second, 30 for the third etc. so long as you don't leave the steal screen between items. Thus the totals go up 10, 30, 60, 100... A thief with a high steal skill may be able to steal money from someone one coin at a time in order to gain a large amount of experience.
Applicable Perksperks aid in creative procurement efforts:
Of these, the entrepreneurial Pickpocket will find the namesake perk most useful as it eliminates weight and facing modifiers.
After the restoration pack for Fallout 2 you can now steal from locked containers which you wouldn't be able to if you just activated/used the container. You can steal from any locked container as long as it doesn't have an opening animation (for example the locked desks in Vault City.) You can not however steal from locked containers with animations (like strongboxes, or lockers).