Robbery of businesses have been a staple element of specific missions the series since the first game, but the ability to rob a business at any moment of the game was only introduced in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and resurfaces in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, Grand Theft Auto IV, Grand Theft Auto V, and Grand Theft Auto Online.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
To start a robbery, the player must enter a store and train any firearm targeting reticule on the cashier. When the player stops aiming at the clerk, he will sound the alarm and duck behind the counter, further intimidation yields no more money, but Ammu-Nation clerks will begin shooting at player. Continue aiming at the cashier until money appears on the counter, or, if the player is standing where the money is dropped, until the players cash count begins to increase. The amount of money the player receives and the wanted level attained depends on how long they persist holding the aim position on the cashier;
- The first of four cash drops earns $50 and a delayed two-star wanted level.
- The second cash drop earns an additional $100 (total $150) and an automatic two-star wanted level.
- The third drop earns $250 (total $400) and an automatic three-star wanted level
- The fourth drop earns $600 (total $1000); wanted level remains at three stars.
The player can rob nearby shops to the same degree without increasing their wanted level. The player may choose whether or not to kill the clerk. The player can rank a single wanted star if he instantly kills the clerk with one shot after he drops the first bundle of cash. If he survives the player's threat or attack the alarm will instantly sound and the player will receive a minimum two-star wanted level, up to three stars max. The player may then take the cash and exit the store. The simple act of threatening the clerk until cash is dropped counts toward the 100% Completion required 15 robberies, even if the player leaves the money behind.
Vice City Beach
- Bunch of Tools, Washington Beach
- The Jewelers, Vice Point, just North of Well Stacked Pizza
- Corner Store, between El Swanko Casa and North Point Mall
- Dispensary, Vice Point, just West from the Corner Store
- Gash, North Point Mall (ground floor counter)
- Tooled Up, ground floor of North Point Mall
- Vinyl Countdown, upper level of North Point Mall
- Family Jewels, ground floor of North Point Mall
Vice City Mainland
- The Jewelers, Downtown, east of Well Stacked Pizza Co.
- Dispensary, Downtown, just east from Rock City
- Ryton Aide, Little Haiti
- Brownstone Laundromat, Little Havana
- Café Robina, Little Havana
- Screw This, Little Havana
- Calleggi Delicatessen Restaurant, Little Havana, North of Little Havana VCPD
Hint: It is possible to quickly progress, since three maximum stars are earned for any number of consecutive robberies, and Wanted Level stars are cleared after successful completion of Rampages. It is possible to combine robberies, such as inside the North Point Mall - Vinyl Countdown, Tooled Up, Zip and Family Jewels are easily robbed in one attempt and then commence the rampage just outside the East exit by running North across the street up the stairs to the spawning Body Armor in the shelter of the nearby corner wall.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories
In GTA Vice City Stories, the game's rendition of Vice City introduces a myriad of new businesses with interiors that can be entered and robbed. However, the mechanics of store robberies is modified, and as a result no longer requires the player aim their weapon at the clerk. Instead, the player has to destroy the properties inside a store (e.g. refrigerators, clothing racks, or electronic items) using any weapon until the clerk raises his hands and drops the cash onto the counter. The returns from basic store robberies are often very low (at least $100), and the clerk sometimes refuses to pay up even if the player destroys all the properties. When this happens, the player can opt to kill the clerk and/or destroy the cash registers to gain additional cash. Businesses that can be robbed in the game include the following:
- Electric Boulevard
- Gorilla Salad
- Hardcore Pawn
- Mal Viento
- Nalgas Grandes
- Verdi Groceries
Each property in the store requires two or three direct hits from any weapon to be destroyed. Shotguns, chainsaw, and explosives are an exception; these can destroy a single property in one hit, with explosives, such as grenades, being able to destroy all properties in the store with just a single throw.
While stores at the Vice Point Mall feature interiors and clerks, none of them can be robbed in a similar manner; even if the player kills the clerks, no cash will be dropped. Store robberies in the game are integrated into Empire Building's Protection Racket, which offers higher financial returns.
Grand Theft Auto IV
Robberies in GTA IV are significantly simplified. Players no longer require to threaten or kill a storeowner, but simply walk up to their counter's cash register and open the tray to obtain their cash; as a repercussion, the player receives a one-star wanted level a few seconds after the robbery. Often times, the amount stolen may only range from a high of a couple hundred dollars to a low of nothing at all, making the business of robbing stores far less lucrative.
Stores that can be robbed in GTA IV include:
- All TW@ outlets (at the eatery's counter);
- Laundromats; and
- The Korean store damaged during "Bull in a China Shop", but only accessible through glitch or modifications.
Grand Theft Auto V and Grand Theft Auto Online
There are 20 stores that the player can rob throughout San Andreas.
To rob a convenience store, the player must enter one and draw a weapon, and aim it at the cashier so he becomes alarmed. The cashier will then begin to take money from the cash register and put it inside a plastic bag, which he will then drop over the counter so the player can pick it up. The plastic bag will contain something between $1,000 and $3,000.
After the shopkeeper hands over the money while being held at gunpoint, he will ask what the player wants and will say that there is no money left. But if the player shoots at the second till until the drawer opens, a second bag containing more money appears. Most of the time, the bag falls behind the counter and the player has to climb over in order to pick it up.
For a while after robbing a store, the store's doors will be locked if the player comes back, with a prompt telling the players it has recently been robbed.
In GTA Online, an "intimidation meter" is displayed at the lower right hand corner of the screen to indicate the time remaining until the cashier finishes putting all the money in the bag. The player may use their own voice to intimidate the cashier and make the meter fill faster. They can also shoot the groceries/drinks available for a higher intimidation if they don't have a mic. The higher the intimidation gauge, the faster they will fill the bag. The player can also rob the store with an empty gun. However, if the clerk hears the gun is empty, there is a chance he will stop emptying the register, pull out a firearm from behind the counter and shoot at the player. This can also happen after the player robs the store and starts walking away.
Random civilians in Online can also intervene and attempt to stop the robbery, this happens by chance, depending on whether there are people in the store or walking past the door. They are most likely an off-duty police officer, as they can be heard saying "there goes my vacation".
The shopkeeper sometimes will refuse to hand over the money after being robbed several times, and will even pull out a gun, leaving the player no choice but to shoot the shopkeeper. Then the player can rob the till themselves by pressing right on the D-pad and shoot at the second till for some extra takings. If the player visits the same 24/7 branch they just robbed earlier, the shopkeeper (if spared during the first robbery) will recognise them and flee the premises. The player will get a one-star wanted level but is still able to steal the money from the tills.
Robbing a store will result in a one-star wanted level, which will escalate to two once the player exits the store with the cash in hand (the player automatically receives two stars in GTA Online while brandishing a weapon). If the player decides to shoot the shopkeeper, it may also result in a two-star wanted level. When the player robs the store and shoots at the second till in one take, the police will most of the time already have arrived at the scene before the player leaves the premises. A decent getaway car is therefore highly recommended, especially if the player decides to shoot at the police which results in a three-star wanted level.
If the player robs multiple stores in a short time, one after another, their wanted level will be higher after each robbery. The wanted level can go up to three, four and five if the player robs enough stores in one session without changing masks. Wearing a mask may or may not prevent the player from being recognized on future visits; when the clerk recognizes the protagonist that previously robbed the store upon entering, he will cower in fear while calling the cops, initiating a 1-Star wanted level. If the player wishes to visit a previously-robbed store and either buy items or rob it again, the previously-used protagonist has to kill the shopkeeper upon completion of the robbery to make sure that there are no loose ends. At which point the shopkeeper is killed following the robbery, a new one will take his place after the player either completes or replays a mission or saves the game by going to sleep.
Lastly, if the player enter a store without a clerk or if the clerk dies before he gets the register open, simply walk behind the counter and face the register until the prompt appears. Then, press Right on the D-pad to open the register and take the money. This method is much quicker than having to wait for the cashier to empty out the cash register into a bag, but the player will get one more wanted star if he does it this way, also the payout will be lower. Another method is to shoot open the first register, and as soon as the player takes the money, they can exit the store without attaining a wanted level, unless civilians hear the gunshot and alert the authorities. This doesn't work on a second register, so the player will still need to shoot open the second register if there is one.
Robbing all the stores earns the player the Stick Up Kid achievement/trophy and the Armed Robber award, with unlocks all variations of the "Clown with gun" back tattoo (award and tattoo progression incremented at 5, 10, 15 and 20 robberies).
The player can also hold up clothing shops and Tattoo Parlors by aiming any firearm at the cashier, but the cashier will instead take cover and lock the doors unless the player is inside. The player can break the counters using any firearm, earning between $50 and $200. These do not count towards the achievement.