In Grand Theft Auto V, the heists concept took on additional significance, with a series of such mission strands forming the core of the game's story. The major heists typically begin with a meeting of the three protagonists: Michael De Santa, Franklin Clinton, and Trevor Philips. Unlike in previous games, the player is presented with options on how to approach the proposed heist — for example, they could choose to enter a building stealthily from the roof, or burst through the front door all guns blazing. As before, heists typically require the assistance of specialists, be they drivers, gunmen or hackers. However, unlike previous games these crew members are not recruited by the player but simply hired for the job, with several options to choose from. Potential crew members all charge a different percentage of the final cut and bring a varying level of skill to the table, with the player having to choose between hiring expensive experts who take a larger slice of the profits, or cheaper newcomers who may falter during the heist itself.
Once the player has chosen their plan of attack and hired their crew, they must perform a series of setup missions to gather the necessary equipment and intel required for a successful heist. These include stealing equipment necessary for the job (such as weaponry or knockout gas), acquiring vehicles to use during the robbery (such as specialised, civil or emergency vehicles), gathering intelligence (such as architectural plans), finding a place to stash a getaway car, and buying clothing and masks to disguise the heist team. Only after all the necessary preparations have been made can the heist be carried out.
Upon successful completion of a heist, any crew specialists involved will gain experience (provided they survived), meaning they will be more skilled if hired again for a later job yet will still only ask for the same cut of the profits. Completing the major heists in GTA V will also unlock an achievement/trophy.
- The Jewel Store Job - Michael enlists the help of Lester Crest and Franklin Clinton to rob a Vangelico jewelry store to pay back money to Martin Madrazo, for wrecking his girlfriend's house.
- The Merryweather Heist - Trevor Philips enlists the help of Michael De Santa, Franklin Clinton and Wade and Floyd Hebert to rob Merryweather Security of a high-tech device.
- Blitz Play - Ordered by the FIB; Michael, Franklin, and Trevor take down a Securicar, steal the security bonds, and fight off several waves of police until an opening is found which allows each of them to escape.
- The Paleto Score - Another job for the FIB; Michael, Franklin, Trevor, and a hired gun (player's choice) raid the bank in Paleto Bay and fend off both the local police and the military.
- The Bureau Raid - Michael and Franklin raid the FIB Building to retrieve incriminating evidence against Steve Haines.
- The Big Score - Pressured on by Merryweather, Michael, Franklin and Trevor go for the biggest heist of their lives to steal millions of dollars worth of gold bullion from the Union Depository.