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How to pay off a bounty if you commit a crime in Starfield

Is stealing stuff in broad daylight worth it? Maybe so

A Starfield character stands behind bars in the Neon security building. Image: Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks via Polygon
Julia Lee (she/her) is a guides producer, writing guides for games like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and Genshin Impact. She helped launch the Rift Herald in 2016.

If you have sticky fingers, you may find yourself with a bounty in Starfield. If you’re caught stealing while not hidden or smuggling illegal goods, you can get tossed into the slammer, and there are a few ways to avoid this. We tested them all so you don’t have to.

The first time you’re arrested by the United Colonies, you’ll actually start a mission called “Deep Cover,” in which they blackmail you to go undercover for them. After you start this quest, getting arrested again after will yield the normal results, which we talk about below.

How do bounties work in Starfield?

Bounties in Starfield work extremely similar to Skyrim bounties. If people see you pickpocketing or stealing, you will get a bounty added to your head for that region. If you get caught stealing one thing on Neon, you’ll get a 500 credit bounty for Neon. If you get caught stealing again, you’ll get another 500 credits added and so forth.

Smuggling out contraband, like Aurora, will also add a bounty to your head.

If you have a bounty, security from that planet will chase you down. However, you can pay a fine, choose to go to jail, or fight your way out. You cannot fast travel while guards are chasing you.

[Ed. note: We encountered an issue when we were mass pickpocketing people on planets and loads of security guards would appear. They’d follow us around but never actually start the “you’re under arrest!” prompt unless we interacted with them. Use this knowledge how you’d like, but we don’t think this is working as intended.]

A Starfield character stands proudly in front of several guards in New Atlantis.
These guards were not arresting me. Just following me because I did many thieving crimes.
Image: Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks via Polygon

How to pay off bounties

There are some kiosks that allow you to clear your bounty without talking to anyone, but it depends on the region in which you have that bounty. Based on our testing, you can only clear your bounty if you’re not currently in the area associated with the faction that has a bounty out for you.

For example, if you have a bounty with the Freestar Collective and you’re using the kiosk in Freestar Collective space, you can’t pay off your bounty. You’ll have to find one outside of Freestar Collective space.

There’s also a slight markup. Clearing a bounty of 500 credits cost us 550 credits, so it is a bit more expensive than just paying your fines.

Bounty kiosk locations

These kiosks are typically located in bars, but you can find them in random outposts and smaller settlements, too — like HopeTown. You can find bounty kiosks in the following hub locations, but remember the rule about faction affiliations before charting your grav jump:

  • Akila City (Freestar Collective): Hitching Post Bar
  • Neon (Freestar Collective): Astral Lounge
  • New Atlantis (United Colonies): Viewport Bar
  • Cydonia (United Colonies): Broken Spear Bar

What happens when you get caught by guards in Starfield?

The easiest way to get out of this situation is to pay a fine (which is the cost of your bounty) and relinquish your stolen goods.

On Neon specifically, you can also bribe the guards to let you go, with the cost of the bribe being higher depending on your bounty. The initial cost to pay them off is 3,000 credits. Paying off the guards allows you to keep your stolen goods, but you cannot bribe guards on many other planets. (There may be more planets that allow for bribery, but we haven’t found any other ones at the time of publish.)

Even if you pay these amounts, you will still get teleported to jail, though you’ll be free to go once you get there.

A Neon security officer in Starfield is trying to make an arrest. Image: Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks via Polygon

You can also agree to serve jail time, which actually relinquishes all your stolen goods and deduct some XP. With the base bounty of 500 credits, we had to serve five days in jail and we lost 500 XP. At a 1,000 credit bounty, we had to serve seven days in jail and we lost 900 XP, so it’s safe to say that the higher your bounty, the more jail time you have to serve (and the more XP you lose). Your XP cannot go below zero and you will not lose levels.

You can also choose to fight the guards, which you probably do not want to do in places like Neon or New Atlantis, as there’s tons of security to brawl against, and this is probably not worth it.

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