Starfield: Differences Between Contraband & Stolen Items

The thin line between contraband and stolen goods is getting clearer by the day. What are the things that separate the two?

Screenshot by Gamepur

The battle for kleptomania plagued gamers who played through Bethesda’s catalog for many years before the launch of Starfield. Unfortunately, the long-time developers of Fallout and Elder Scrolls have found a way to make it even harder to keep our stolen goods in a row with the addition of contraband that players can smuggle illegally through space. The fact that we still get to steal personal items is where things can get confusing. We’ll unpack the differences between the two types of theft and how they affect your character.

Related: Starfield: Best Place To Sell Contraband – Wolf Den Wait Trick

Stolen items are marked with red

Screenshot by Gamepur

When you steal an item in Starfield, it will have a red icon next to it in your inventory. You can tell if the item you are about to pick up will count as stolen as the same red icon will appear next to its name in the UI. As well, any items pickpocketed from someone will also count as stolen. Stolen items can range from weapons, to credits, to even pencils.

Stealing is still bad. If caught, you will be arrested by the authorities, and the items that you’ve stolen will be confiscated. There are ways around this, the primary being to remove the red stolen icon from the item by visiting a Trade Alliance vendor, selling it, and buying it back. Stealing is very lucrative in this game, and those who choose to take this route will end up rolling in credits by the game’s midpoint if they survive.

With all that being said, stolen items are not checked by security forces when entering a planet’s orbit. You can have as many stolen items on your person or in your stash as you want, and the authorities out in space will not care one lick. This can be confusing for players, but the fact of the matter is that stolen items are bypassed by security when landing on planets. Unfortunately, they aren’t getting paid enough to care.

Contraband is marked with yellow

Screenshot by Gamepur

As you may know, yellow items are contraband items that are illegal, although they may or may not be stolen. What this means is that the items are marked as contraband when you are arrested and are taken away, just like stolen items. Contraband items are also scanned for when you enter settled systems like Alpha Centauri or Cheyenne. As a consequence, it is harder to move past planetary security. Ironically, getting caught with these items will cause you to lose your non-contraband stolen items, even if security isn’t checking for them.

Contraband items sell for a lot more than stolen items, but they are a bit of a pain to offload as you cant take them to any old supermarket.

Related: Starfield: How to Get Shielded Cargo Holds to Smuggle Contraband

There are many ways to smuggle your contraband past security, so be sure to take advantage of them regularly. It’s a shame that the game doesn’t have more types of stolen or illegal goods that can bypass certain security measures. We feel like that’s a natural progression for the upcoming Bethesda titles that are on the horizon. In the meantime, be sure to use this knowledge for your next criminal outing… in-game.