Elder Scrolls
Elder Scrolls

Pickpocket is a skill in Skyrim and is one of the six skills that fall under The Thief play-style. The intent of the Pickpocket skill is to provide greater role-play opportunities and much more realistic thievery. The Dragonborn is free to peruse their target's inventory, without breaking the law. Unsuccessfully removing or adding an object will raise the Dragonborn's bounty, often causing the intended victim to become hostile. Children cannot be pickpocketed, regardless of skill level or perks chosen.

"The stealthy art of picking an unsuspecting target's pockets. A skilled pickpocket is less likely to be caught and is more likely to find valuables."
Loading Screens[src]

There are many opportunities for lucrative pickpocketing to offset the significant costs of investing perks in the skill. Many characters will carry large amounts of gold or valuable jewelry that is frequently enchanted. Gold from training or bribes will also be in the characters' inventory which can then be stolen with the Pickpocket skill.

There is an unknown formula for maximum gold value that can be pickpocketed based on the level of the character's Pickpocket skill and which perks they have. This can result in situations where even a small change in gold value can result in huge swings in percentage chance of success. This problem can be avoided altogether by paralyzing the victim first, as it is possible to pickpocket anything from them without detection as they are getting back up.

The amount and weight of an item determines the difficulty of pickpocketing it. However, the item's value determines how much the skill is leveled by after being successfully pickpocketed.

Governing Guardian Stones: The Thief Stone


The following are the perks that become available to select as the skill is leveled up:

Perk (Ranks) Requirements Description
Light Fingers (5) None/20/40/60/80 Pickpocketing bonus of 20%. Item weight and value reduce pickpocketing odds (+20% per additional rank)
Night Thief Pickpocket 30, Light Fingers +25% chance to pickpocket if the target is asleep
Poisoned Pickpocket 40, Night Thief Silently harm enemies by placing poisons in their pockets
Cutpurse Pickpocket 40, Night Thief Pickpocketing gold becomes 50% easier
Extra Pockets Pickpocket 50, Night Thief Carrying capacity is increased by 100.
Keymaster Pickpocket 60, Cutpurse Pickpocketing keys almost always works
Misdirection Pickpocket 70, Cutpurse Can pickpocket equipped weapons (when hidden)
Perfect Touch Pickpocket 100, Misdirection Can pickpocket equipped items, clothes and armor (when hidden)



The following books provide a permanent one-time increase to the Dragonborn's Pickpocket skill. See each book's page for a list of possible locations.


Leveling techniques[]

  • The amount of Pickpocket experience gained per item taken is partly based on a ratio of (item value/item weight). The higher this ratio for an item, the more Pickpocket experience is gained after a successful grab. The chance for success is reduced based on how heavy and valuable the item is. Therefore, as a general rule, it is most efficient to pickpocket gold, arrows, gems, jewelry, and other items with little-to-no-weight and high gold value. Solitude, Whiterun, and Windhelm have disproportionately higher numbers of people who are more wealthy and carry the above types of items in abundance. Making mass pickpocket runs through these 3 cities alone while using rested bonus and The Thief Stone will bring a character up to at least 90 Pickpocket in little time.
  • A very easy way to level up the technique is to get sent to Riften jail. Once there break free, find your loot and kill all the guards (there are two). After you have done this sneak up to another prisoner in his cell (one is to the left from your cell, one opposite your cell, Brand-Shei below your cell if A Chance Arrangement is completed, and one opposite Brand-Shei's cell), you can pick pocket all of his belongings. Even if you get caught it will not cause hostility or raise your bounty (because you are already in jail) so just continue to pickpocket him as long as you would like. Once you have all of his belongings replace them and repeat as much as you want. A far quicker method is planting gold on the prisoner and stealing it back (consult value in bullet below) *Note that you can leave your things in the dresser inside your jail cell. The guards will not take everything out when you get arrested.*
  • If you already have enchanting at 100 and the dual enchanting perk, craft a set (amulet, ring, boots and gloves) with +40% pickpocket and +40% sneak each. At level 15, put 700 gold in the victim's inventory and steal it back. This will have a 90% to succeed. Repeat, adding ~100 gold more each time. This will add about 5 levels every successful attempt.
  • One of the ways to level it up is to find a carriage driver, like Bjorlam in Whiterun. Save the game first! Open his inventory and go to your "misc" section. Deposit 200 gold then, without exiting the inventory, steal it back. From skill level 5–20 you should do about 50 gold. From 21–25 you should do about 200 gold. From 26–40 skill do 300 gold. From 41–65 do about 520 gold. From 66–80 do 600 gold. From 81–100 steal around 900–1000 gold. Each time you take the money back you will go up by about 1 Pickpocket level. This method can also be applied to Sibbi Black-BriarNote: Use as many perks in Pickpocket as you can, so you do not get caught as much. This can also be done with guards in a hold. The guard next to Belethor's General Goods, during the early morning hours is an excellent place to level. Just be sure to keep some extra coin on you to pay your bounty.
  • Steal gold from your Housecarl. Wait until your Housecarl goes to sleep, after that place some amount of gold as shown above and/or items depending on your level and steal them back. Save the game after two or three tries so you will not miss the opportunity to steal again in case your Housecarl notices you.
  • Another variant of the method listed above is using one of your followers. Give them the items you plan on pickpocketing for leveling and then dismiss them. Once they are dismissed, pickpocket the items. Repeat and make sure to rest in bed every eight hours to get the skill bonus. Note: The items will gain a stolen tag.
  • One method, which avoids potential accidental deaths, is to steal from city guards. This provides the possibility of continually finding someone to pickpocket and being caught instantly upon failure, thus avoiding potential deaths of aggressive characters resulting from a failed pickpocket attempt. The leveling is cheaper and faster if you do that in a city under that is under Thieves Guild influence, since you can use the dialogue telling that you're with the thieves guild, to halve the fine, and make the guard let you go, allowing another pickpocket attempts.
  • A simple and effective method is to quicksave before each attempted pickpocket. If successful, save again, if unsuccessful, re-load. Inns and marketplaces are good places for pickpocketing, as there are many individuals there, who can be pickpocketed one by one, and then move to the next marketplace/Inn. Also, to increase the chance of success, only pickpocket 1 item at a time.
  • Complete the city influence quests and pickpocket anyone with impunity. If caught, just tell the guard that "you're with the thieves guild." This tactic results in a 12 gold fine each time one gets caught.
  • As Guild Master in the Thieves Guild, it is possible to pickpocket any of the members freely. When caught, the member would say, "You could've just asked." Afterwards, it will not be possible to pickpocket that member again, and the message, "<name> has already caught you," will be displayed.
    • Prior to becoming the Guildmaster, Mercer Frey is a good target, since he carries a variety of items, ranging from simple potions to jewels. If he catches you, he will never become hostile or make any commentary, unless he is following the Dragonborn during "Speaking with Silence." Pickpocket him when he is behind his desk.
  • It is possible to pickpocket a skill trainer, so after being trained in another skill, remember to pickpocket the trainer. In high levels of training, like 70+, with perks in Pickpocket, or a boost with equipment enchantments and/or potions, it is possible to level up quickly by stealing back around 2000+ gold with 90% chance of success.
    • Alternatively, training Pickpocket with Vipir or Silda the Unseen, if you do not have access to the Thieves Guild yet, is a great way to level the skill early on. Talk to him, train the skill, save, and then try to pickpocket the money he received for the training, reloading upon failures. Each pickpocket attempt will be around a 37% chance, but will level you each time you succeed. So, training and then pickpocketing the single-training money back will result in fast leveling of both yourself, in general, and the Pickpocket skill...up to a point. He may, eventually, create so much money on his person (through some means) that will make it impossible to pickpocket, but this is a great way to level the skill and yourself up until that time.
  • Another good technique is to pickpocket from bandits, as they always carry gold. If the attempt should fail, there are no consequences other than the fight with the bandit. Using this method also helps to level up Sneak, particularly if said bandit is killed with a sneak attack. Using Calm on a bandit while pickpocketing works well to this cause.
  • If you have cleared out the valuables of most people in the game and still are not at 100 Pickpocket, The Fishing Job can be used to gain levels while remaining in towns.
  • During Blood on the Ice, after you sell the strange amulet to Calixto Corrium, you can pickpocket it back and sell it to him again. You gain at least one skill level each time you do this, but it is recommended to have at least 40 Pickpocket and several light fingers perks for this to work effectively.
  • With 70 speech you can get the investor perk. Go to Angeline's Aromatics in Solitude and invest the 500 gold with Angeline then steal it back. A bug in the game causes the investment option to never go away. You can give money every time which means stealing back larger amounts and leveling faster.
  • You can get a bounty and let yourself get caught (you need to be in the Thieves Guild) and bribe the guard with the more expensive option, then steal it back after. This method is very fast but can be a cost at low levels.
  • Joining each guild and then pickpocketing the members will not incur a bounty, but it will show the message that "(member) is unable to be pickpocketed". This is a good way to level up, especially for those guilds whose personnel sleep.

Removing stolen tag[]

  • Get a Hold Guard to take the Dragonborn's stolen goods, then tell a follower to loot the evidence chest in that city's prison. This works only if the follower has a compatible morality.
  • Sell the item to a fence and then buy it back at a much higher price. Speech perks and enchanted apparel, like the Amulet of Zenithar and Clavicus Vile's Masque, can be used to reduce the cost of buying back the item. The Dragonborn can use the Fence perk from the Speech skill to use any merchant as a fence. This will not work for a few items.
    • If Ahkari has been unlocked as a fence, you can sell her the items, then retrieve them from the invisible chest beneath her via a glitch or using a console command to access it. This way, you actually gain money from removing the tag.
  • Another more expensive method is to put the item into a merchant shop's inventory, then buying it from the merchant. e.g., waiting for the merchant caravans to arrive at Dawnstar (making sure their inventory will not refresh after speaking with them), then going to the invisible Dawnstar chest, and putting the stolen item inside that chest. Then buying the item from the merchant like any other item.confirmation needed
  • It is also possible by putting the stolen items in an empty container from which you can search instead of steal, like some wardrobes, endtables and cupboards in houses or shops. Then after storing the stolen items you have to let a follower loot the container and then trade with him/her. It doesn't always work with containers located outside.
  • Another simpler method is to pickpocket the stolen items onto a bandit, then kill the bandit and loot the items. If you fail, you can use an invisibility potion or spell and hide until the bandit is no longer aggravated. You can also kill the bandit and use the technique on a different one if you are detected.


  • Items can be pickpocketed with 100% chance if the target is paralyzed first. As soon as the victim begins to get back up, any item can be taken, regardless of the percentage chance displayed. The stealthiest way to do this is by putting weak paralysis poison in their pocket with the Poisoned perk active (carrying a Staff of Paralysis or knowing the spell will work, but often attracts attention and a bounty for assault). Another technique is to carry a weak bow and arrows, lace a shot with a paralysis poison and fire from a hidden position; with a high stealth skill, this can be done without getting a bounty. The victim can also be knocked down using all three words of the Unrelenting Force shout to have the same effect as paralysis. This can be especially useful for stealing large sums of Gold after paying a trainer.
  • A popular exploit to gain Pickpocket levels is to go behind a jarl (because they normally have expensive things) and take something with the value of around 100 Gold and place it in their pocket and then simply rinse and repeat.
  • The chance to successfully pickpocket any item (including Gold) is capped at 90%.
  • It is not necessary to be completely "hidden" to successfully pickpocket, though it does raise the chance to steal items significantly. It is, however, necessary when pickpocketing equipped items or weapons (though only from the character being pickpocketed – it does not matter whether or not the Dragonborn is seen, so long as the Dragonborn is not caught).
  • After unsuccessfully attempting to pickpocket a character, the character cannot be pickpocketed again for two in-game days. The character will not reset if the Dragonborn waits two in-game days in the same room.
  • A Forsworn Briarheart will die if the Briar Heart is successfully taken from his inventory thus making this action double as a "stealth attack" to the Briarheart.
  • It is not possible to pickpocket anyone affected by the Bend Will shout; sneaking will only offer you the option to speak to them.
  •  PS3   It is possible to pickpocket items with a 0% chance to steal. However, it requires having the Poisoned Perk. Simply get any type of paralysis poison and place it in the target's inventory. While they are down, the desired item can be pickpocketed.
    •  360   The above method will also work using a Staff of Paralysis, but will only work on some characters while others become hostile. This depends on the character's level.
  • Another method to do it is to use Ice Form on the character, sneak and pickpocket them just as the ice breaks. Friendly characters like trainers or housecarls will not become hostile when Ice Form is used on them. With this method, equipped armor marked with 0% chance can be pickpocketed, as well as Gold paid for training, though very weak characters may die from frost damage during the freeze time.
  • The Perfect Touch perk does not work on essential characters.
  • Relieving hostile characters of all weapons in their inventory (including equipped ones which requires the Misdirection perk) will cause them to pick up and equip nearby weapons on the ground or anything with a damage rating and to replace their lost weapon. They can even pick up weapons stashed in containers.
  • Every character and creature has their own detection status, meaning that as long as that specific character or creature cannot see the Dragonborn, the Dragonborn still counts as "hidden" to them, even if the eye is completely open. 
  • A 0% chance to pickpocket does not mean that it is impossible to steal that item. It means that the chance falls below 1%.
  • Characters only wear their original apparel. For example, if you pickpocketed iron armor off of someone, they will only reequip that and nothing else.
  • Books and notes can be read while pickpocketing someone without attracting a bounty or hostility. This does not increase the Pickpocket skill.
  • The posture of the person being pickpocketed can raise or lower chances of taking an item, i.e., a Hunter is sitting on the ground, and stealing a bear pelt has an 89% chance of being stolen. When the hunter stands up, perusing his inventory again reveals the bear pelt now has a 90% chance of being taken without being caught.
  • Pickpocketing low-damage arrows from characters practicing archery and reverse pickpocketing desired arrows (such as Daedric or Dragonbone) will force that character to use those arrows. As characters do not run out of arrows, they can be infinitely picked up after being fired, thus duplicating them. There are always guards in the courtyard of Castle Dour during daytime that practice archery.


This section contains bugs related to Pickpocket. Before adding a bug to this list, consider the following:

  1. Please reload an old save to confirm if the bug is still happening.
  2. If the bug is still occurring, please post the bug report with the appropriate system template  360  /  XB1  ,  PS3  /  PS4  ,  PC  /  MAC  ,  NX  /  PS5  ,  XS  , depending on which platform(s) the bug has been encountered on.
  3. Be descriptive when listing the bug and fixes, but avoid having conversations in the description and/or using first-person anecdotes: such discussions belong on the appropriate forum board.
  • Enchantments that boost pickpocketing chances may reduce the success rate when the base chance is small. Such enchantments grow less effective as the value of the item being pickpocketed increases; for the most difficult items, these bonuses fall below 0%, resulting in a negative "bonus."confirmation needed
  • In a similar circumstance such as above, the disease Ataxia ("Reduced Lockpick & Pickpocket," "Picking locks and picking pockets is 25% harder.") This serves to benefit the Dragonborn by instead increasing the chance to pickpocket very high values. For example, targeting Eorlund Gray-Mane, item "Gold (2173)" with a 85% chance with the disease present, item "Gold (2173) with a 64% chance after the disease has been cured.confirmation needed
  • If the target is standing up from paralysis, one can pickpocket everything from them without being noticed. However, this will not increase the Dragonborn's Pickpocket level. See above.
  • When quickloading immediately after being caught pickpocketing when subtitles are enabled, the residents will appear to be slandering you as a thief, this however does not make the residents aggressive nor will get you a bounty. To fix this, just exit the city and re-enter.confirmation needed
  •  PC   If a non-hostile character is killed with poison (using the Poisoned perk), a 1,000 Gold bounty may be immediately placed on Dragonborn (but not displayed in the screen corner), despite being in full stealth. This makes potion kills useless in certain questlines such as the Dark Brotherhood.


Thief (Achievement)
Pick 50 locks and 50 pockets
Points 30 Gamer points
Silver trophy

See also[]