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Quick-Start Guide for Thieves in Skyrim: Whiterun

When not reading, writing, and editing, you'll probably find me traveling and exploring this amazing world of ours.


A Beginner's Guide to Jumpstarting Your Skyrim Thief

So, you’ve decided to play a thief character in Skyrim. After having escaped the burning Helgren, and made your way to Riverwood, you are now probably wondering what next? As Skyrim is massive, and to a beginner, often a bit daunting, following is a quick start guide to launching your thieving career off on the right foot.

Be sure to be in sneak mode when attempting to steal any items in the game. Before attempting to steal any items be sure to save beforehand. This way, if you happen to get caught you can reload the game to the point before you stole the item and try again, or at least avoid the bounty if you opt not to steal the item.

Activate the Thief Standing Stone

If you haven’t already activated the Thief Standing Stone, do so. The Standing Stones are located on the trail down from Helgren. The Standing Stones increase your leveling in the abilities pertinent to your character class by 20%. There are three Standing Stones at this location: Thief, Mage, and Fighter.

Start With the Main Quest Line

It’s a good idea to begin with the Main Quest line to start, due to the fact that you will become acquainted with the city of Whiterun and all the resources available there. Whiterun is the most centrally located city in Skyrim and for many adventurers makes a great base of operation. Also, by starting the Main Quest you will begin to learn the Dragon Shouts which are one of the most useful weapons in the game.

Loot Items in Jorrvaskr

In Whiterun, there are a number of great early game targets for thieves. Head to Jorrvaskr home of the Companions. Proceed downstairs. Loot the various rooms in the basement. There you will find gold, weapons, and all sorts of smaller items such as books, cups, vases, and other objects which you can sell. You may opt to join the companions while you’re there which provides access to a number of combat skill trainers that will prove useful throughout your Skyrim career.

Loot Items in Dragonsreach

Next, head to Dragonsreach, the palace of Jarl Balgruuf. Feel free to wander about the rooms of Dragonsreach looting small items. Many plates, cups, vases and the like. Also be sure to check out Farengar Secret-Fire’s room which is off to the side of the main hall. Farengar has all sorts of items to steal including potions, books, and soul gems.

Sell to Belethor

The main store in Whiterun is Belethor’s General Store. Belethor, while sort of obnoxious, buys everything. Please note no merchants will buy anything stolen. Stolen items show up red when viewing them. Stolen items can be sold to local fences who will become known to you once you join the Thieves Guild. Stolen items appear as normal items in your inventory, however, they will not show up in your inventory if you attempt to sell them to merchants who are not fences. The items will also appear red when you place them in any container.

Use Light Armor

As a thief, you will want to opt for light armor versus heavy. Light armor not only weighs less, which allows you to carry more items, it also provides greater mobility and speed key attributes for a thief character.

Head to Riften

Riften is the home of the Thieves Guild. Head to the main market area in the center of town. You will be approached by a character named Brynjoff who is one of the top people in the Thieves Guild. He will ask you if you want to make some money. Accept his offer and embark on the quest A Chance Arrangement. After completing this quest you will be directed to journey into the Ratway (where the Thieves Guild resides) and it there that you will be invited to join the Thieves Guild.

Once you join the Thieves Guild, you will be presented with Thieves Guild Armor which is excellent early game light armor that magically enhances most of your major thief abilities. Also, you will have access to Thieves Guild trainers who can train you in all the major thieving abilities. In addition, you will have access to Tonilia who serves as an in-house fence for Thieves Guild members.

Be sure to purchase as many lock picks as you can from Tonilia as she typically has more lock picks for sale than just about any other merchant. You’re going to need those lock picks for all the doors and treasure chests you encounter.

Other Tips and Tricks

For detailed information on Skyrim and the Thieves Guild be sure to visit the Unofficial Elderscroll Pages. This website is an invaluable source of information on all things related to Skyrim and the other Elderscroll games.

If you're playing a thief, you'll want to be sure to obtain the Nightingale Bow, one of the most powerful bows in Skyrim.

For an easy treasure to supplement your income with little or no risk of bodily harm, see:


Not here on February 16, 2018:

Add dark brotherhood

5ilver on December 23, 2013:

This was interesting. I may atempt this tactic once i complete my first profile. nice thinking!

Christophe Vaille (author) from USA on August 02, 2012:

I'm saving the Dark Brotherhood for a separate article all by itself. Thanks for your feedback!

Anonymous on July 29, 2012:

Great Guide. You may want to mention the Dark Brotherhood.