Smuggling in Starfield – 2 Best Ways to Sell Stolen Items

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Smuggling in Starfield – 2 Best Ways to Sell Stolen Items

Smuggling in Starfield is one of the most fun aspects of its open world, but how can you safely sell stolen items and contraband in Starfield?


Starfield is the newest title from Bethesda, their most expansive game yet. In a year that saw TOTK and Baldur’s Gate 3 get released, it’s definitely impressive that this is still one of the year’s biggest experiences we’ve seen in gaming.

While a lot is new and improved, there are still some good old-fashioned mechanics you’ve come to know from Bethesda games. One of those is the ability to steal stuff and sell it! It’s a bit different from the simplistic system in games like Skyrim though. There’s a whole system for how to sell contraband in Starfield.

Starfield has a lot of a complicated systems for certain items. There are normal items which are all legal, but there’s also contraband. These things are illegal.

Trying to bring them into any settled areas will show up when your ship gets scanned. After this, it’s possible you’ll rack up a decent number of fines. So how can you sell contraband in Starfield safely?

To sell stolen items in Starfield you’ll need to be careful. Getting caught with contraband can lead to trouble. If you’re looking for a quick way to offload some goods that fell off the back of a starship though, there are some good methods for how to sell contraband in Starfield without getting caught.

These are all of the things to watch out for, the potential pitfalls, and how to successfully sell stolen goods for smuggling in Starfield.

How to Sell Contraband in Starfield

Smuggling in Starfield – 2 Best Systems to sell stolen items in Starfield

To sell stolen items in Starfield, you’ll need to get your head around the contraband and stolen item system. Essentially, when an item is stolen, you’ll spot a red icon on them.

Contraband has a yellow icon. When your ship is scanned heading into a settled area, they can find these items. If they get caught in your ship, you’ll earn a fine and eventually a bounty. You’ll also have to surrender the item. Not following the rules is going to have you on the backfoot pretty quickly, not great if you want to explore the universe in Starfield.

It’s not too complicated to get away with smuggling in Starfield though. There are some ship add-ons which can make it considerably simpler. That’s along with a few easier tricks to get around the system. This is how you can do that.

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Differences Between Contraband and Stolen

Before you can start smuggling in Starfield, you’ll need to think about the items you’re carrying. There are two types of restricted items. One type is a stolen item and the other is just contraband. Stolen items are ones that aren’t your property, things that you shouldn’t have possession of, but not necessarily illegal items as a whole.

Contraband on the other hand is an item or resource which is specifically outlawed in the area you’re heading into.

You mainly find stolen ideas by, well, stealing. Grabbing items that are around NPC-owned places or other settled establishments will usually end up stolen. Contraband on the other hand is often found when looting ships or cargo. Typically if you’re interacting with mercenaries or pirates it’s going to come up quite a bit.

Both types are tricky to get through intergalactic customs. However, scans largely search for contraband. It’s difficult for a ship to know if something is stolen just from a scan.

While this makes it easier to carry stolen goods, if it’s discovered as stolen you still face punishment.  That’s the main difference, how to sell contraband in Starfield comes down to avoiding getting caught.

Smuggling in Starfield – 2 Best Systems to sell stolen items in Starfield

When is Contraband in Starfield Caught?

Smuggling in Starfield works for both of these types of items. That’s the main difference between the two but how do the authorities know you’re handling these goods in the first place? It comes down to a scan.

The same way you can scan planets in Starfield, your ship gets scanned. When you’re entering into an area occupied by the United Colonies or Freestar Collective, you’ll get scanned.

This will essentially reveal the contents of your ship, and definitely cause problems if you’re carrying contraband. The scan is usually going to happen and catch things in your ship, but there are some ways to avoid getting scanned in the first place or shielding certain items. That’s key to sell contraband in Starfield.

Shielded Cargo to Hide and Sell Stolen Items in Starfield

Smuggling in Starfield – 2 Best Systems to sell stolen items in Starfield

The best way to bring contraband in and out of wherever you want is to add a dedicated module. There is a shielded cargo module. This will shield the cargo that you’re carrying. Make sure you put any contraband items inside this module and the scans aren’t going to pick up on it. However, this does only pop up later in the game.

You might be thinking about other tactics for smuggling in Starfield. Such as using your companion as a willing or unwilling mule. Sadly, Bethesda theft protection has come on since Oblivion. The scans will still reveal stolen property in your inventory or that of your character.

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If you want a reliable way to smuggle in Starfield, the main solution is the dedicated ship module. Even once you’ve successfully smuggled contraband in Starfield through to a planet though, how can you offload it safely and sell contraband in Starfield?

How to Sell Stolen Goods in Starfield?

The main mechanism for selling goods on planets is to head over to a Trade Authority building. You’ll find these in a lot of the settled areas. These are yellow signboard buildings which are pretty easy to spot. When talking to a vendor, you can decide to sell some items.

To sell stolen items in Starfield, you need to talk to the trade authority. Then you can select the loot you wish to sell and offload it. Doing it via this method means you don’t have to carry it around in your actual inventory and take on any more risk than you need.

Another method to sell stolen goods in Starfield is to go to the Crimson Fleet space station. They don’t scan ships. You can just fly right in and sell what you want to sell! If you want to make things even more convenient though, there are ways to avoid detection of stolen goods in Starfield.

How to Avoid Scans and How to sell contraband in starfield

There are two methods to get rid of those scans that could get you caught with contraband in Starfield. Both work for Smuggling in Starfield, but one is a more reliable solution. This is how they work.

  • Deception Skill – Contraband scans will be less effective with this skill. Although, it won’t irradiate them altogether.
  • Shielded Cargo – You can purchase these modules and use them to shield certain areas. This only unlocks once you’ve joined the Crimson Fleet though.

Both of these methods require you to put the time into getting things set up to sell stolen items in Starfield. However, they will make it a lot easier to smuggle. If you’re planning on doing a lot of smuggling then it’s worth perusing these two avenues of gameplay.

Smuggling in Starfield

That’s how you can sell contraband in Starfield! If you’re hoping to live out your Han Solo dreams of becoming a smuggler in the deep space, this is a pretty fun aspect of the game. Take a bit of care in where you’re offloading your hot merchandise and you should be able to safely smuggle and sell stolen goods in Starfield.

Smuggling in Starfield – 2 Best Ways to Sell Stolen Items
Jordan Ashley
Ashley is a dedicated Fortnite player, in hour 3,000 of trying to finish above 90th.