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For the car in GTA Online, see Vigilante.

The Vigilante side mission is a vehicle mission in every 3D Universe game, Grand Theft Auto IV, and Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars in which the player is required to chase down and kill the indicated targets (other criminals) within a time limit. Vigilante mode can be activated at any time (when not already in a mission) from within a Law Enforcement vehicle.

Brown Thunder is an identical side mission, which can be activated from a Hunter attack helicopter in games in which the vehicle appears, excluding Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories. It can be done in place of the Vigilante. The name Brown Thunder is a reference to the 1983 action film Blue Thunder, which centers on a heavily-armed law enforcement helicopter.

Vigilante in 3D Universe


At the start of the mission, a criminal spawns in a random vehicle (clearly marked and shown on the radar) and attempts to evade the player. If the vehicle catches fire or is held in place for more than a couple of seconds, the occupant(s) will bail out and run or attempt to acquire new transport. They may even steal your car. In GTA Vice City, a new car will spawn for the criminals to use if the player doesn't kill them fast. As the player completes each level, the targets come armed with better weapons and, as of GTA Vice City, become more numerous until eventually, multiple vehicles appear with each new level. In GTA San Andreas and GTA Vice City Stories criminals will have the ability to drive-by. The player has to be ready to flee as well, since some of the criminals are heavily armed, for example, Rugers and Shotguns that can, and will, kill the player and destroy their vehicle in seconds. In GTA Vice City, any nearby gang members will open fire at the criminals if they see them, but cannot kill them except if they destroy the vehicles that the criminals are in. The soldiers at Fort Baxter Air Base tend to destroy criminal vehicles easily due to always spawning in groups and carrying the powerful M4s, meaning their bullets will almost always hit criminal vehicles regardless of their speed, although it is highly recommended to not provoke these soldiers as otherwise they can also destroy the player's vehicle.

Aside from the obvious choices of drive-by shooting the target vehicle until it blows up or ramming it off the road, there are other options. For example:

  • Performing the PIT maneuver to spin the vehicle out and then successfully blocking it will prompt the targets to abandon the vehicle.
    • Forcing the criminals' vehicle to enter water will lead to instantly killing them, since NPCs usually die instantly if they enter deep bodies of water.
  • Identifying the target vehicle's likely route (only a practical option in some areas with few side roads) and setting up an ambush or roadblock ahead of it. Using a powerful weapon, it is very possible to blow up their car before the assailants have time to get out of it.

The mission ends in a failure if the player remains outside of a Law Enforcement vehicle for more than 60 seconds (30 seconds in VCS) in one go, dies or is arrested, time runs out, or in the case of GTA Vice City Stories, destroys their vehicle.

Vigilante mode does not grant immunity from the police, who will often pursue the player for murder, firing weapons, hitting police cars, etc. They make it a lot harder since almost no emergency vehicles can be resprayed, and the player might attain the wanted level faster than finding police bribes.

Each time a Vigilante mission is started, the player must begin at Level 1, and cannot continue a previously failed or cancelled mission. GTA Vice City Stories has a checkpoint every five levels, and the player can restart at that checkpoint if the mission has been failed or canceled before completion.

In GTA III and GTA Vice City, the police dispatcher will call out the initial spawning locations of the criminals at the beginning of each Vigilante level (e.g. "Suspect last seen in [insert location]"). In other games, the player is told via an on-screen message instead.


Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto Advance
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Level Money
1 $50
2 $200
3 $450
4 $800
5 $1,250
6 $1,800
7 $2,450
8 $3,200
9 $4,050
10 $5,000
11 $6,050
12 $7,200
Total $32,500
  • Maximum Armor Increased by 50% (Complete Level 12) (this is bugged on some pc versions of the game where no bonus is applied at all)
  • What the City Needs achievement/trophy (PS3, Xbox 360, PS4 and Definitive Edition)

The below formulae can be used to calculate the money earned on any level, as well as the total money earned during the mission after completing a level.

Level X = $50 * X2
Total Money Earned after Level X = $25 * (X/3)*(2X2 + 3X + 1)
Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories
  • Maximum Armor Increased by 100% (Complete Level 12 / Level 9 in Mobile version)
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories
  • Maximum Armor Increased by 100% (Complete Level 15)


The following vehicles can initiate missions:


In some of the 3D Universe games, it is possible to use cheats to complete vigilante levels very quickly - despite there not being any actual cheats made directly for the vigilante game mode.

It involves getting a police vehicle, driving it into a garage the player owns, then beginning the Vigilante side-mission. This would spawn a criminal, who is almost certain to be either inside or next to a vehicle. After leaving the garage, the player then enters in a cheat to blow up all vehicles, which would kill the criminal, but also blow up the police car; however, simply re-entering the garage will have the police vehicle fixed. The player can then carry on doing this process, until they have cheated their way onto their desired vigilante level.

Using the cheat to spawn a Rhino after the cheat to destroy all vehicles has been activated will also work, entering the Rhino to progress to the next level each time the vehicles have been blown up.


A glitch exists in GTA San Andreas that allows completion of Vigilante without actually having to engage the enemy. Trigger the sub-mission, and park the police vehicle near the entrance to a food place such as Burger Shot. When the targets are identified, exit the vehicle (a countdown clock to mission failure will begin) and enter the food place. Wait about 20 seconds and exit. If done correctly (the exact timing may vary and one must be careful not to run out of time), the game will indicate that the targets are dead. Quickly reenter the police vehicle and wait for the next mission. Repeat. On the PS2 this has been done successfully for all levels. One walkthrough reports it works on the Xbox too but only up to a certain point, and purchasing food may or may not be necessary.

In GTA Advance, it's possible to fill the Shotgun ammunition by entering a Police Car and repeatedly activating/deactivating the Vigilante mission. The same applies to refilling armor with a SWAT Van.


In any of the games:

  • Players can just rely on drive-by shooting from their police car by stocking up their SMG ammo (MP5 is more recommended) and shoot at the criminals' car until it is destroyed. Performing P.I.T Maneuvers, taking out the driver from a distance, or damaging the criminals' car enough to force them out of their vehicle might allow the player to kill them on-foot, although it should be put into account that some criminals may carry AK-47s on higher levels.
  • However, one should pay attention on their wanted level since cops will also try to stop the player. In addition, as gaining 3-stars wanted level or above might also endanger the player's police vehicle where cops on-foot will start deploying spike belts to burst the player's tires, making chasing the criminals more difficult.

In Grand Theft Auto III:

  • Compared to later games, the rendition of the Vigilante side-mission in GTA III is considerably easier: only 1 car spawns, with only 1 criminal, which is armed with light weapons, and will not shoot at the player if their vehicles are destroyed (rather, they will shoot pedestrians).
  • As with all side missions in the game, Vigilante should ideally be started as soon as possible (after collecting 20 Hidden Packages to collect some Uzi ammo), because most gangs become permanently hostile or upgrade their armaments as one progresses through the storyline.
  • It may be useful to do the Taxi Driver side-mission first, to get used to the main points in Liberty and driving around the city without a map.
  • Getting 20 total kills on each island is necessary for 100% completion, but they do not need to be done successively; players can cancel Vigilante and drive back to the garage to repair the vehicle at any time, and then start Vigilante again.
  • Getting 20 total kills in one Vigilante mission is, however, required for the "Going Rogue" Trophy on PlayStation 4 – again, it is recommended players do this as soon as possible, preferably before making the Triads hostile, and either learn where Police Bribes are located or let an attained Wanted Level disappear once the player earns one (any more than one and it will not disappear after a set amount of time passes).
  • Arguably the hardest part of the GTA III rendition of Vigilante is in Portland Island, when the player has low firepower and has to retort to chase, PIT maneuver and drive-by using a regular police car.
    • However, after unlocking Staunton Island the mission becomes considerably easier: now that the player can get the FBI Car (which spawns at 5 wanted stars), which is sprayable, whenever the player needs to lose the cops all what is needed is to drive to the closest Pay 'n' Spray. The player's firepower is also upgraded, now that the M16 is unlocked, the player can now abandon the pursuits and use an ambush approach: identify a predictable route that the criminals will use, stop ahead of them, wait until they appear in the screen, and fire, the M16 will make quick work of their cars. The M16 is highly accurate and powerful, just 1 second of fire (that's how long it takes to the M16 to fire 15 rounds, due to its high rate of fire) and the vehicles will explode.
  • For its outstanding qualities, the M16 is the perfect option at the final part of Vigilante, in Shoreside Vale, where long driving distances, few options to get from one island to the other, and limited time can make the mission tough, were it not for the M16's efficient performance.
  • Also, by doing Vigilante missions player can obtain a fast car early in the game because criminals will often drive Cheetahs or Infernuses.
  • Vigilante missions can also be useful to complete the Import/Export side-mission as the cars wanted there are often driven by the thugs.

In Grand Theft Auto: Vice City:

  • The mission becomes considerably harder than in GTA III. Now the quantity of cars and criminals that spawn increase progressively, starting from 1 car with 1 criminal in Level 1 and finishing with 3 cars with 12 criminals in Level 12.
  • In addition, the criminals are also tougher now: they are more heavily armed with pump-action shotguns and Kruger assault riffles, and will shoot at the player if they get off their vehicles instead of firing at pedestrians like in the previous game.
  • Vigilante is again required for 100% completion and the "Running Rampant" Trophy.
  • The Hunter military helicopter can also initiate the Vigilante side mission (called "Brown Thunder", but effectively Vigilante in all but name), and it is preferable over other vehicles due to its abilities to close distances easily, automatically lock onto enemy vehicles (only with the machine gun, not the rockets), and be unrivaled in the air. Possibly due to a glitch, destroying vehicles with the machine gun is flagged as unable to gain a Wanted Level, granting technical immunity to the police. However, while the Hunter is highly recommended, it isn't easily available until after completing a significant part of the storyline.
    • The Hunter can be obtained as soon as the second island is unlocked, where it can be found in the Fort Baxter Air Base at the back, next to the wall in the north of the base.
    • However, the soldiers that guard the base are armed with M4 and will make quick work of the player, thus it is advised to get a police uniform on (unlocked after completing the mission "Cop Land").
    • The Hunter is also available in the helipad outside Lance Vance's Apartment south of the Ocean View Hotel once the player has both completed the final mission "Keep Your Friends Close..." and obtained all 100 Hidden Packages.
  • Alternatively, if one does not wish to wait for the Hunter, one can obtain a VCPD Cheetah in addition to full health, armor, plus lots of Uzi and Ruger ammo. It may be advisable to complete the Taxi Driver and Pizza Boy missions as well, the former to gain money for weapons, the latter for extra health. Be advised that it's impossible to obtain a Cheetah early on in the game without invoking the wrath of the Vice Squad, so they're best engaged from a distance before stealing the car and respraying it. Even with these preparations, it's best to engage criminals from a distance in order to reduce the likelihood of getting knocked down by a shotgun blast.
  • In this game, the tires of any law enforcement vehicle the player is driving while the side mission is active are immune to spike strips and will remain so even after the side mission ends. Activating the Vigilante side mission may come in handy when trying to evade the law anytime in the game.

In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas:

  • Vigilante is, once again, required for 100% completion and the "What the City Needs" achievement/trophy.
  • The Hunter is once again the best vehicle for the side mission, but is significantly more difficult to unlock as the player is required to get Gold in all Flight School challenges.
    • An alternative and much easier way of obtaining the Hunter is by starting the "Heli Hell" race tournament, which starts the player in a Hunter, and, when the race begins, fly it to Las Venturas Airport, just near to where the player selected the race. Exit the Hunter and allow the timer to expire, which will disqualify CJ and boot the player back to the race tournament menu. The Hunter will be right where the player landed it, ideally very close by. Players can either take it the hangar in Verdant Meadows Airfield or immediately begin Vigilante (again called "Brown Thunder" when in the Hunter).
  • The Rhino serves as an adequate replacement if the Hunter poses too much of a challenge to unlock. However, its slow speed can leave players open to getting busted if a police officer gets too close if the player cannot accelerate away fast enough. Spinning the turret around 180° (facing behind the tank) and firing will allow the Rhino to accelerate quickly and gain incredible speeds.
  • Another strategy is to stock up on MP5 or other SMG ammo (at least 2000, although the more the better) and start the side mission on a HPV-1000 motorcycle, which is highly maneuverable and allows the player to do drive-bys while facing forward. It is doubtful that the Wanted Level will go higher than 3, which is entirely manageable on a bike. Note that it is not possible to have the civilian cars move out of their way if players attempt to put the siren of the HPV-1000 on.
  • After each successfully completed level, the law enforcement vehicle that the level was passed in gets roughly 30% damage removed from the vehicle up to 100%.

In Grand Theft Auto Advance:

  • Once again getting 20 total kills on each island is necessary for 100% completion.

In Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories:

  • The "Vigilante" mission appears to be much easier to complete since the ability for NPCs to perform a drive-by from their car is eliminated.


In GTA III and GTA Liberty City Stories
  • The Barracks OL is not intended to be used in the Vigilante side mission.
In GTA Vice City
  • The VCPD Cheetah is one of the best cars to use for the Vigilante side mission. Not only is it fast and maneuverable, it can resprayed in a Pay 'n' Spray, repairing the car and removing the active wanted level.
  • Unlike with the other vehicle missions and Vigilante in other GTA games, the mission won't end after level 12, so it is possible to continue indefinitely. As the reward for each level accumulates, millions of dollars can be earned for each level during an hour's or so play.
  • A maximum of four vehicles will spawn after level 12, with the fourth one not often spawning with the other criminals and usually in water, killing them instantly.
In GTA San Andreas
  • Grove Street gang members can be recruited to help kill the criminals. If the player is shot at - or otherwise attacked - by the criminals, the gang members will shoot back. This tactic becomes more useful after all gang tags in Los Santos have been sprayed over, as Grove Street gang members will start carrying Desert Eagles and MP5s, which are more powerful weapons.
  • The Rhino Tank can be a very useful Vigilante vehicle owing to its ability to destroy other cars simply by driving into them (making head-on "chicken"-style ambushes a good tactic) and its long-range turret. It is, however, very slow, and it is entirely possible for criminals to outrun the player until the time limit expires even at fairly low levels, particularly on larger highways or off-road (however, by turning the turret backwards and firing it is possible to gain enough speed from the cannon's recoil to chase down almost any vehicle). It can also be very difficult to obtain a Rhino without using cheats or earning a 6-star wanted level (although the tank does spawn in some locations, such as Fort Baxter in GTA Vice City (only after collecting 90 hidden packages) and Area 69 in GTA San Andreas). In Vice City Stories this problem is compounded by the fact that all Rhinos encountered prior to the completion of the penultimate mission, Over The Top, whether at Fort Baxter or under a 6-star wanted level, will be locked and cannot be driven.
  • If the player enables the peds attacking Carl with weapons cheat while on vigilante missions, a glitch will occur where the targeted criminals will sometimes separate from their cars. For example if the player is playing Level 4 (where there are four criminals in a car), this cheat code will sometimes cause two of the criminals to abandon the car while the other half continues to drive it.
  • The player's vehicle will gain increased health after completing a level, making it easier for it to avoid getting destroyed. This does not apply to the Rhino, as usually players would have plenty of health due to its bullet and explosion resistance.
  • In the first level, the suspects are usually driving 2-door vehicles, even some rare ones that don't normally spawn in traffic like the Hotknife or Euros. Later levels restrict the targets in 4-door vehicles.
In GTA Vice City Stories
  • Along with spawning in cars, suspects may also spawn on motorbikes or on foot. The player will be notified of how the suspects are travelling in the prompt during the start of each level.
    • On motorbikes, the player can easily perform a drive-by on all suspects (especially on a police bike, as the player can perform a forwards facing drive-by).
    • On foot, suspects will spawn at a fixed location in a large group. The player must be cautious when approaching them, as the suspects will be quick to fire, possibly killing the player or destroying their vehicle.

Vigilante in Grand Theft Auto IV



In GTA IV, the Vigilante missions are retooled. When Niko accesses a police car, he can access the criminal database computer and view crimes in progress in the area. The player has a time limit to get to the crime scene, but once there the timer stops. These crimes include:

  • Gang activity, which involves killing a group of thugs;
  • Stolen vehicle, which involves chasing down the criminal(s) in the stolen vehicle
  • Suspect on foot, which consists of only one criminal fleeing a crime scene, and are usually the easiest, as a vehicle can mow them down swiftly.

It's worth mentioning, that criminals upgrade their weapons as the player solves the crimes, though only on levels closer to level 20. Up to those levels the "gang activity" and "criminal on foot" criminals possess only pistols, while the "vehicle stolen" suspects seem to prefer Uzis as their weapons. On levels 17-19 the criminals switch their weapons to heavy artillery: suspects on foot and those involved in gang activity start carrying very powerful weapons: AKs, Carbine Rifles, Pump and combat shotguns, Desert Eagles, even Sniper Rifles. Some criminals may now even have grenades and thus take the player down in no time, as well as destroy his police car. Suspects in vehicles now all come armed with MP5 and thus become very lethal as well. Since those levels the thugs' armaments will remain like this. Also, the criminals increase their health significantly since those levels and thus can withstand lots of damage before dying (for example, they can easily survive getting hit by a police car at high speed and still have pretty much health to continue fighting). A headshot, though, is still a lethal takedown.

The criminals in Vigilante missions have limited ammo. If their bullets run out, they will throw away the gun and use their bare hand to fight. Occasionally, though, some criminals (usually 1-2) already spawn unarmed (in "gang activity" and "criminal on foot"; in the latter case, there's always only one criminal) and fight the player hand-to-hand. The player can opt to fight the criminals hand-to-hand too, but it can be dangerous, as the criminals have very good fighting skills and can easily kill the player if his reactions are not quick enough; the player can also be killed by his opponent's armed buddies if he is responding to a "gang activity".

During Vigilante missions, the player can attract undesirable law enforcement attention when engaging suspects. Despite this, the wanted level automatically disappears once the last criminal is killed. In addition, responding police officers will engage the suspects as well, prioritizing them over the player in almost all cases. If the player wishes to summon additional officers, they may do so using the 911 feature on Niko's phone, or, prior to responding to a crime, by using the "Call for Backup" feature on the Police Computer.

20 missions must be completed for the Cleaned the Mean Streets achievement and for 100% completion. The 20 missions however do not need to be done consecutively, similar to GTA III. In addition, there is a new form of the mission called Most Wanted.



The following vehicles can initiate missions:
The Enforcer, Annihilator and Police Maverick can be used to continue missions after they have been initiated in another vehicle.

Design Issues

Players are given a short time limit to arrive at a scene of a crime (typically around or less than a minute) before the target is lost. As the time limit is calculated based on the player's direct distance from their target, the allocated time may not be enough for players that need to navigate around obstacles and terrain (for example, having to drive around the retention wall of Broker's harborfront to districts inland within 20-40 seconds). Bohan's labyrinthine and bay-like layout and comparatively small size is notorious for generating Vigilante targets that are extremely difficult or impossible to reach on time.


  • As mentioned, the player may still receive a wanted level during a vigilante mission. However, upon completion of the mission, their wanted level seems to be cleared (at least up to three stars).
  • Vigilante and Most Wanted cannot be enabled in Episodes From Liberty City. If the player tries to use it, only "error connecting to server" will appear. However, the player can still use the computer to call for back-up and search for certain criminals.
  • Vigilante and Most Wanted cannot be enabled while on a mission or during a date/friend activity.
  • Vigilante and Most Wanted cannot be enabled until completion of the mission Crime and Punishment. However, Niko can still search for certain criminals and call for back-up. In addition, if he successfully types in the name of a Most Wanted in Broker, Dukes and Bohan, he can do those, but will usually only be armed with a Glock pistol.
  • Criminals in "gang activity" crimes can spawn completely neutral to the player; they simply stand where they have spawned, even without their guns ready, and do not react to the player even if he walks close to them (Niko may even bump into them on foot). However, if the player attacks one of the thugs, even with his fists, all the gang members will draw their weapons and start attacking.
  • The dispatcher will report the crimes the player chooses to investigate via the police radio, similarly to when the player's crimes are reported. If "criminal on foot" is chosen, the dispatcher will say: "We've got a suspect/criminal resisting arrest/fleeing a crime scene on {address}"; if the player investigates "vehicle stolen", the following message will be transmitted: "We've got criminals performing drive-by activity/shots fired on {address}"; for all "gang activity" crimes, there is only one message that is transmitted every time the player chooses this crime in the police computer: "We've got a drug deal on {address}". The messages mostly do not correspond with the names of the crimes in the police computer (e.g the name of the "Vehicle stolen" crime implies that the theft of a vehicle has occurred while the dispatcher reports this crime as a drive-by shooting or simply shooting).

See Also

Vigilante in Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars


The police computer in Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars.

In GTA Chinatown Wars, the Vigilante missions are retooled again. When Huang accesses a police vehicle, they can access the criminal database computer and view crimes in progress in the area. The player has a time limit to get to the crime scene, but once there the timer stops. These crimes include:

  • Gang activity, which involves killing a group of thugs;
  • Stolen vehicle, which involves chasing down the criminal in the stolen vehicle
  • Suspect on foot, which consists of only one criminal fleeing a crime scene, and are usually the easiest, as they can be mowed down swiftly by a vehicle.

The side-mission automatically ends after killing the last criminal on each wave, and to restart it Huang needs to re-enter a Law Enforcement vehicle and access the Police Computer, so the player doesn't have to complete all five waves consecutively to obtain the Gold Medal, as long as the chain is completed without failure.


  • Maximum Armor Increased by 100% (Get Gold Medal)


The following vehicles can initiate missions:

Vigilante in Grand Theft Auto V


GTA V features a bounty hunting side-mission in the shape of the Bail Bond Strangers and Freaks missions for Maude. These missions are exclusive only for Trevor, and are a bit similar to GTA IV's Most Wanted side-mission, except it's limited only to find four criminals in total.

Police cars can often be seen chasing criminals as well, attempting to intervene here will result in an automatic three-star wanted level for vigilantism.