Skyrim Lockpicking and Pickpocketing Guide

Stealth is something that requires a great deal of patience and in Skyrim, it comes with good combination of skills/perks and knowing how to use them under certain conditions. If your mind is a bit hazy about which skills you need to master and which perks you need to level up, read our Skills/Perks Tree Guide and take a look at Thief/Assassin Character Build. These two Skyrim Lockpicking and Pickpocketing guides will walk you through all the basics and give you insight into how you can become a smart thief or a silent assassin in Elder Scrolls V Skyrim. It isn’t easy but with practice and these tips, you will learn the tricks of the trade faster than you expect.

Skyrim Lockpicking and Pickpocketing

Skyrim HUD displays a Stealth meter, which will indicate the status of your visibility. It acts a warning and helps you cover your tracks or escape, when needed. It is indicated by an eye and state of that eye determines whether enemies around you are aware of your location.

If the eye is fully open, you have been detected by the enemies around so you should hustle and escape the area. If the eye is half-open, you are close to being detected by the enemy, so it’s time to stay hidden for a while and don’t do any action that will draw attention.

When you are completely hidden, sneak indicate will show a horizontal line. Perfect time to sneak/steal and get away with it, without getting detected. If you choose a good combination of Stealth Perks as explained in our Thief Character Build, you can perform wonders without being detected.

You can enter an area swarming with enemies, complete your objective, and leave without your enemy noticing your presence. So, at the end of the day, your choice of perks and skills to level up will determine your Stealth level.

There are a few general rules you can follow when it comes to Stealth. Darkness provides a good cover, so it’s easy to steal, hide, and escape in dark areas. Try to avoid plain sight, keep yourself hidden .

It’s important to have a light armor that is good for movement and makes less noise. Avoid heavy armor because it makes noise and that is what you want to avoid. Also, you should take notice of our movement, walk slow, don’t run else you will detected.

When you want to sneak up on an enemy, you should use small weapons such as daggers and bows, which are silent. Sneak attack would work most effectively with a paralyze spell. Lock your enemy and finish it off with a stealth attack.

Even your footsteps make noise so make sure you have chosen good perks to lower the noise effect.


There are lots of valuable items which you can get access to by looting the locked chests. You can either find the keys to unlock these chests or just lock pick them and get the item. The valuable the items are, harder it will be to lock pick that chest.

Moreover, you will come across several NPCs with very valuable loot in their possession, which they keep in their houses. You can steal these, but do know that it will result in a crime, if detected.

Basic Lock Picking will begin with the game and as you move towards more difficult quests and enhance your skills, difficulty to pick a lock will also increase. High level locks will require a great of understanding the mechanism and a good combination of skill level and perks.

You should stock a large quantity of Lock Picks to begin with, because during your initial lock picking adventure, you will end up breaking lots of lock picks. As you move, level up the Perks under the lock picking skill to enhance your skills.

When you will attempt to pick a lock, it will start lock picking mini-game. Your goal is to find the sweet spot and move the lock but don’t apply too much force else you will break the lock pick.

Find the sweet spot and adjust your lock pick accordingly. If the lock picks, turn the lock slowly because you may hit another pin that won’t move, at which point you should adjust the pick slightly to open the lock.

It will take practice and you will break few lock picks for sure but ultimately, you will become a master thief if you choose a good combination of perks and lock pick enough locks to level up the skill so that you can open more advanced locks later in the game.

If you are confused about which perks will suit you best, refer to our Thief Character Build.

These are the perks that you will get as you level up your lockpicking skill:

Perk (Ranks) Requirements Description
Novice Locks None Novice locks are much easier to pick
Apprentice Locks Lockpicking 25, Novice Locks Apprentice locks are much easier to pick
Quick Hands Lockpicking 40, Apprentice Locks Able to pick locks without being noticed
Wax Key Lockpicking 50, Quick Hands Automatically gives you a copy of a picked lock’s key if it has one
Adept Locks Lockpicking 50, Apprentice Locks Adept locks are much easier to pick
Golden Touch Lockpicking 60, Adept Locks Find more gold in chests
Treasure Hunter Lockpicking 70, Golden Touch 50% greater chance of finding special treasure
Expert Locks Lockpicking 75, Adept Locks Expert locks are much easier to pick
Locksmith Lockpicking 80, Expert Locks Pick starts close to the lock opening position
Unbreakable Lockpicking 100, Locksmith Lockpicks don’t break
Master Locks Lockpicking 100, Expert Locks Master locks are much easier to pick

How To Level Up Lockpicking Fast
Once you have found the key to the Dwemer Museum in Markarth, go to the main showroom and try your luck on the high-level locks, expert-level display cases, and other pick-able locks.

This area has enough locks that you can pick to level up this skill up to 10 levels. Make sure you don’t run out of Lock Picks. If you patrolling guards bother you, level up Quick Handsperk and try to stay hidden – Closed Eye.


This is a bit harder than lock picking because it involves stealing from an active NPC. The most important aspect of pickpocketing is in knowing whether you should even attempt to pickpocket an NPC. Why ? because it would be wasted effort if you are trying to pickpocket an NPC that doesn’t have anything that you are looking for.

To make sure, you are pursuing the right target, always check the inventory of the target. You can check the inventory of any NPC without being tagged as a criminal.

It would again require a good mix of perks to successfully pickpocket NPCs without being detected. If you are detected when picking a pocket, you will be tagged as criminal and a bounty will be placed on your head. Which will make things bitter for you.

There is a specific amount of gold that can be pickpocketed from the target as many targets will be carrying a very large amount of gold or valuable jewelry but you will see that larger the amount of gold larger the protection will be. They will get their valuable items enchanted.

So the gold you will be able to pickpocket depends upon the level of skill you have and perks as well. Keep in mind that small changes in gold values can drastically change the rate of success.

Here are the perks that you will get as you use the pickpocket skill and get more and more skilled in it.

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)

 Level Up Pickpocketing fast
Here are the techniques for quick level up:

  • You can steal gold from your Housecarl, whenever he goes to sleep you can first place some gold and then steal them back from him and then save the game, this will add the progress to your game.
  • Similarly, you can use the same above method with your followers. First give them some gold and then steal it back from them and save the game.
  • A very helpful technique is to always steal from Bandits as they always carry gold so it is sure that you will get something and even if you fail you will not get caught but will have to just fight with the Bandit. This will also increase your ability of Sneak

Again, don’t forget to look at our Thief Character Build, if you want to become a successful thief in Skyrim. These may be general guidelines but following these simple guidelines will make you a smart and successful thief in Skyrim.

For more help on Skyrim, read our Dragon Shouts Locations, Daedric Artifacts Locations, and Standing Stones guide.

Don’t forget to add your own tips and strategies you follow for lockpicking and pickpocketing in Elder Scrolls V Skyrim.

Contributor at SegmentNext.