The Wanted Level in Grand Theft Auto V and Grand Theft Auto Online is a measure to determine how much the player is wanted by the Los Santos Police Department, the Los Santos County Sheriff and/or NOOSE. Unlike many previous games in the series, Grand Theft Auto V features a five-star scale rather than six.

Description

In contrast with police in previous installments, police officers in Grand Theft Auto V are much more aggressive and persistent when it comes to chasing after the perpetrator. The police AI is noticeably much more intelligent; police officers are more capable of avoiding obstacles. They will also now use a wider range of methods to apprehend the player; examples include the PIT maneuver and attempting to corner and "box in" the player's vehicle. When chasing after the player in a vehicle, police officers tend to ram the back end of the player's car, which may send it spinning out of control. Like in Grand Theft Auto IV, any officer will also commandeer civilian vehicles to continue a pursuit if their own police vehicle is destroyed or becomes inaccessible. Also similar to GTA IV is the ability for police to respond to crimes committed out of their sight, as civilians can call the police on their cell phones to report crimes. While having a Wanted Level, players are not able to switch between the three protagonists (except during several missions), albeit they can switch to their Online character.

Police now search the player in the same style as Grand Theft Auto III. No search radius is deployed; instead, the police will search across the entire map. Each individual officer has a field of view, and will actively pursue the player if he/she enters the field. This makes it notoriously difficult when avoiding officers in Police Maverick helicopters, as their field of view is significantly larger than a four-star search radius in Grand Theft Auto IV.

Wanted Levels

One Star

At a one-star wanted level, the player is considered to have committed a "minor" crime. The police will chase the player and attempt to arrest him/her by holding the character at gunpoint. The player can resist arrest by fighting back or by simply running/driving away, at the cost of immediately raising the wanted level to two stars. Police cars will follow the player. If the player climbs a ladder, the police will climb up as well. There will be a minimum of one police car chasing the player at this wanted level, but more cops can initially join if the player is nearby when attaining the first star. If the player enters a body of water, officers will open fire on the player. Just like in former games, officers are able to pull the protagonist out of a stationary or slow-moving vehicle and bust them immediately.

A one-star wanted level differs in Grand Theft Auto Online in that the police will never attempt to actually arrest the protagonist by means of gunpoint; instead, they will immediately shoot to kill. This is due to a lack of the Busted mechanic in Grand Theft Auto Online, much like the previous multiplayer mode in Grand Theft Auto IV.

A one-star wanted level can be acquired by committing the following deeds:

  • Pedestrians
    • Running over or hitting a pedestrian with a vehicle.
    • Killing a pedestrian by means of fists, melee weapons, or guns.
    • Showing any physical aggression (punching, kicking, or shoving) towards a pedestrian while in sight of police (A wanted level will not always be given if the pedestrian is already hostile and attacks the player first; instead, the pedestrian will be arrested if he/she throws the first punch).
      • Other methods of causing injury.
      • Pushing too many pedestrians while on foot (PS3/Xbox 360 only).
      • Pushing a pedestrian against another pedestrian sitting down.
      • Beating up a dead body in sight of an officer, firefighter, or paramedic.
    • Harassing a pedestrian in sight of police, or if reported.
    • Pointing a gun at a pedestrian while in sight of police.
  • Police Officers and Police Vehicles
    • Insulting a police officer.
      • Flipping off an officer.
      • Honking a vehicle's horn numerous times near an officer.
      • Performing a burnout in front of an officer.
      • Walking or bumping into an officer numerous times.
      • Performing an action in front of an officer (GTA Online only).
    • Bumping or crashing into an occupied police vehicle.
    • Damaging a non-police vehicle while in sight of an officer, or if reported.
      • Damaging an unoccupied police vehicle in sight of an officer, or if reported.
    • Standing on top of an occupied police vehicle.
    • Injuring or running over a security guard or his dog.
  • World
    • If reported by a pedestrian, causing damage to the world with a vehicle.
    • Setting off an explosion, even if no damage is done (Such as firing an RPG or triggering a sticky bomb).
  • Vehicles
    • If reported, stealing a vehicle not owned by the player, whether occupied or unoccupied.
      • Driving near an officer with a vehicle's alarm active.
      • Killing the owner of a vehicle with a firearm or melee weapons during or after carjacking.
      • Driving a stolen vehicle in sight of police that has not been resprayed (GTA Online only).
    • If reported, performing a near miss at a pedestrian (performing a near miss at an officer or security guard will always result in a wanted level if the player doesn’t leave quickly).
    • Crash-landing an aircraft, but not exploding it.
      • Bailing out of an aircraft and exploding it.
    • Driving a vehicle on fire while in sight of an officer.
    • Being caught drunk driving (drunk driving in an emergency vehicle, such as the Police Maverick and Police Cruiser, will always give the player a wanted level even without witnesses).
    • Knocking down a large number of motorcyclists with a vehicle, or if reported.
    • Colliding and exploding a vehicle with another vehicle.
  • Services
  • Other Players
    • Attacking or killing another player while in sight of police.
  • Miscellaneous Crimes
    • Being caught shoplifting items at convenience stores.
    • Being caught stealing money from the cashier in stores (2 Stars will be given if the player holds the cashier at gunpoint during the robbery).
    • Requesting Ballistic Equipment or Ammo Drop with an officer nearby.

During a one-star wanted level, the LSPD in Los Santos will utilize the Police Cruiser (Interceptor), and the LSCS in Blaine County will utilize the Sheriff Cruiser. The LSPD and the sheriff will operate the Predator if the player swims or drives a boat into the ocean.

Two Stars

At a two-star wanted level, police become more aggressive; they will now shoot to kill. During pursuits, officers actively chase the player and drive much more aggressively, now attempting to ram the player off the road. Pursuits are also far more coordinated; police cars may now wait at the side of the road to "ambush" the player as he/she drives by, or blending into civilian traffic with their lights and sirens deactivated until the player draws near. Police will not attempt a vehicular arrest unless a pursuit has lasted for approximately one minute without hurting any cop and the player stops their vehicle (Of course, this will never occur in Grand Theft Auto Online). At two stars, a minimum of 3 police cars will be chasing the player. Officers will also shoot from their police vehicles if shots are fired from the player or if a weapon is pointed in their direction.

A two-star wanted level can be acquired by committing the following crimes:

  • Pedestrians
    • Shooting at or pointing a gun at an officer or security guard.
    • Commanding Chop to attack too many pedestrians or an officer (Franklin only).
    • Killing, injuring or attacking a civilian inside the Mission Row Police Station.
    • Killing pedestrians while already at a one-star wanted level.
  • Police
    • Attacking a law enforcement officer with fists, melee weapons, or guns.
    • Running over, but not necessarily killing, an officer or guard with a vehicle.
    • Resisting arrest, either by fighting law enforcement or attempting to run/drive away.
      • Refusing to pull over while driving a vehicle after police gives an order to do so.
    • Shooting and killing a security guard with a firearm.
      • Threatening a police officer with a firearm.
      • Shooting a gun in sight of police, even if the gun is not aimed at anyone.
    • Stealing a police vehicle near any police station or anywhere else in the game while in sight of police.
    • Physically attacking a police vehicle that is occupied by at least one officer.
    • Sniping a prison guard protecting Bolingbroke Penitentiary (only if the player is outside of the prison's perimeter; sniping a guard while inside the prison will instead result in four stars).
    • Trespassing in a police impound lot to retrieve the player's Personal Vehicle (GTA Online only).
  • Vehicles
    • Taking down an aircraft occupied by another player. (GTA Online only)
    • Destroying an unoccupied aircraft (No Wanted Level will be given if said aircraft is owned by the player).
    • Shooting down or crashing an aircraft occupied by at least one civilian.
    • Crashing a vehicle the player is driving at high speed while in sight of police.
  • Services
    • Killing a paramedic (with a firearm only; other methods of killing will only grant one star).
    • Killing a firefighter (with a firearm only; other methods of killing will only grant one star).
      • Attacking a paramedic or firefighter while in sight of police.
  • Miscellaneous Crimes

Vehicles: Police CruiserSheriff Cruiser, Police Predator (Water Only).

Three Stars

At three stars, the police widen their range of tactics to stop the player. They will set up roadblocks with their police cars and police transporters, which may also set out a spike strip on the road behind them. All officers that spawn when three or more stars are attained will be wearing bulletproof vests. Officers will run up to the player if they are stationary in a vehicle, drag them out, and instantly kill them with their weapon. A Police Maverick helicopter will be called in to shadow the player and provide air support in the form of NOOSE officers that ride on board. At night, the helicopter will shine a spotlight on the player to highlight his/her location to ground units. Police will not attempt a vehicular arrest, unless a pursuit has lasted for approximately one minute without hurting any cop and the player stops their vehicle; however, the police AI will likely kill the player by mindlessly shooting him/her instead. A minimum of four police cars and a police helicopter will be sent after the player at any given time, but when passing a roadblock, officers may get in their vehicles in order to join the chase. The Police helicopter will always stay on station until its fuel runs low, at which point it will return to base; however, it will be replaced by another in short order. 

A three-star wanted level can be acquired by committing the following crimes:

  • Pedestrians
    • Continuing to kill civilians or other players while already at two stars.
    • Shooting and killing any pedestrians in the Diamond Casino (GTA Online only).
  • Police
    • Running over and killing a law enforcement officer, guard, or soldier.
    • Killing a law enforcement officer or soldier, either by fists, melee weapons, or guns.
    • Trespassing behind the information desk, into the staircase, or on the rooftop of the police station in Mission Row.
      • Standing behind or using the police computer on the police counter inside Mission Row.
    • Shooting a criminal during a police shooting (also known as Vigilantism).
    • Shooting a firearm in near proximity of Bolingbroke Penitentiary.
  • Vehicles
    • Destroying a 2nd unoccupied aircraft after 2 stars were given.
    • Simultaneously destroying several vehicles and/or blowing up civilian traffic (at least three stars; the Wanted Level may be raised if excessive destruction occurs).
    • Shooting down any aircraft occupied by an officer or soldier.
    • Colliding into an NPC-controlled aircraft and destroying it.
    • Continuously attacking or ramming into several vehicles while already at 2 stars.
    • Attacking or destroying the Stockade truck (GTA Online on PS3/Xbox 360 only).
    • Failing to return and/or destroying a requested vehicle from Lester (GTA Online only).
  • Miscellaneous Crimes
    • Trespassing on the runways at Los Santos International Airport as Trevor (Patch 1.11 only; otherwise, the player will also earn a wanted level if playing as Michael or Franklin if either character has yet to own a hangar).
    • Robbing several stores within a certain amount of time without changing glasses or masks (GTA Online only).
      • Shooting the cashier during or after robbing a store (GTA Online only).

Vehicles: Police Cruiser, Police Transporter, Police Maverick, Sheriff Cruiser, Police Predator (Water Only).

Four Stars

A Police Maverick landing and deploying a NOOSE team to engage the player on the roof of the Los Santos Naval Port

At a four-star wanted level, NOOSE teams will be sent to eliminate the player. They will arrive in FIB Grangers or Sheriff SUVs, depending on whether they are in Los Santos or Blaine County. Each vehicle contains three NOOSE officers - one driving, and other two hanging on the sides as they fire their weapons at the player. NOOSE will also try to gun the player down from Police Mavericks overhead with their Carbine Rifles; up to three Police Mavericks may now become involved, although only two will be typically deployed at any one time. When the officers aboard helicopters cannot get a shot at their target, they may rappel out of the helicopter and engage the player on the ground. On rare occasions, a Police Maverick will also attempt to land if there is enough room to do so, deploying a team of five NOOSE officers directly towards the player. Armored NOOSE riot vans will also be deployed to set up roadblocks. Police will not attempt a vehicular arrest unless a pursuit has lasted for approximately one minute without hurting any cop and the player stops their vehicle. At this wanted level, a minimum of five police ground vehicles and two police helicopters will be sent after the player at any given time, though officers in roadblocks will also get in their cars and chase the player. Unlike a three-star wanted level, police (mainly NOOSE) will now attempt to shoot the player from inside their vehicles, even if no shots are fired from the player first.

A four-star wanted level can be acquired by committing the following crimes:

  • Pedestrians
    • Continuing to murder civilians and players after the 3rd star was given.
  • Police
    • Continuing to retaliate against law enforcement.
    • Destroying a pursuing Police Maverick (Can sometimes take at least two downed units to attain the fourth star).
    • Attacking or killing a prison guard within Bolingbroke Penitentiary.
  • Vehicles
    • Destroying a 4th unoccupied aircraft after 3 stars are given.
    • Continuing to blow up traffic after the 3rd star is given.
  • Miscellaneous Crimes

Vehicles: Police Cruiser, Police TransporterPolice Maverick, FIB Granger, Sheriff Cruiser, Sheriff SUV, Police Riot, Police Predator (Water Only).

Five Stars

A continued pursuit with four stars will eventually give the player a five-star wanted level, the highest wanted level in the game. The streets will now be filled with police personnel and feature almost no, if any, civilian traffic; numerous police cars and NOOSE vehicles will hunt for the player and set up multiple roadblocks at a time. At five stars, an indefinite number of police vehicles, as well as up to three Police Mavericks, will be chasing the player, although usually only two will be deployed at any one time. Police will not attempt a vehicular arrest unless a pursuit has lasted for approximately one minute without hurting any cop and the player stops their vehicle. A significantly higher proportion of NOOSE units will be involved when compared to four stars. Unlike police from Grand Theft Auto IV, normal police officers will not perform drive-by shootings during a chase; only NOOSE officers will attempt to shoot the player while driving, firing ceaselessly from their Grangers.

A five-star wanted level can be acquired by committing the following crimes:

  • Pedestrians
    • Continuing to murder civilians after the 3rd and 4th stars were given.
  • Police
    • Continuing to retaliate against law enforcement.
    • Killing a large number of police personnel.
  • Vehicles
    • Destroying a large number of cars, boats, bikes, helicopters, or other vehicles.
  • Miscellaneous Crimes
    • Firing a missile in a Buzzard or P-996 Lazer within the runways at Los Santos International Airport.
    • Robbing all 24/7 stores whilst killing the owner, without getting busted or wasted (GTA Online only).

Vehicles: Police Cruiser, Police Transporter, Police Maverick, FIB Granger, Sheriff Cruiser, Sheriff SUV, Police Riot, Police Predator (Water Only).

In Missions

All wanted levels will be triggered by a unique crime in certain missions listed below.

Grand Theft Auto V

Story Line

  • Prologue - Exiting the bank through the garage door triggers a five-star wanted level. A police shooting with Trevor taking cover after Michael and Brad got shot will also result in five stars.
  • Franklin and Lamar - Completing the race with Lamar triggers a two-star wanted level. The wanted level will not increase if the player shoots and kills cops.
  • Chop - Failure to release D will result in a two-star wanted level.
  • The Long Stretch - Clearing all the Ballas inside the Rogers Salvage & Scrap warehouse triggers a three-star wanted level. A police helicopter will show up once Franklin, Lamar, and Stretch exit the back of the warehouse.
  • The Good Husband - Stealing the police cruiser with Amanda inside the back of the car will trigger a three-star wanted level.
  • Carbine Rifles - Alerting the NOOSE officers inside the Granger triggers a one-star wanted level. It'll be upgraded to three-stars when Michael kills all of the officers, or gets into the Granger before killing all of them.
  • Bugstars Equipment - Alerting a Bugstars employee triggers a two-star wanted level.
  • BZ Gas Grenades - Stealing or shooting the back of the Humane Labs truck carrying BZ Gas Grenades triggers a one-star wanted level.
  • The Jewel Store Job - After Michael and his crew members leave the Vangelico jewel store once all the jewelry has been collected, a four-star wanted level triggers after passing the bag to Franklin escaping on a chosen motorcycle. The wanted level status will be cleared once all Police Cruisers are eliminated using the Benson.
  • Dead Man Walking - When Michael escapes the coroner office through the window, a three-star wanted level will be given.
  • Hood Safari - Causing a shootout between the Ballas and Franklin, Trevor, Lamar, and Chop triggers a three-star wanted level. The player is required to escape to complete this mission on a Seashark.
  • Cargobob - Entering Fort Zancudo gives the player four-stars, but at its reduced difficulty, and only the NPC Buzzard will chase the player after stealing the Cargobob.
  • The Hotel Assassination - Being spotted by Brett Lowrey's bodyguards will trigger either a one or two-star wanted level.
  • The Multi Target Assassination - Failing to leave the crime scene after assassinating the first three jurors will trigger a two-star wanted level.
  • Trash Truck/Tow Truck - Stealing any heist vehicles will trigger a one-star wanted level.
  • Blitz Play - After knocking down the security van, a four-star wanted level will trigger at the beginning of the shootout; three stars when Trevor spots a chopper in front of him. Destroying the chopper reduces the wanted level down to one-star if less than three officers remain, otherwise, the wanted level will be reduced to two-stars until you kill enough officers for it to be reduced to one-star, which will allow you to progress in the mission. Driving the Trashmaster away from the scene as Franklin clears all wanted level status.
  • The Vice Assassination - Failing to leave the crime scene after assassinating the target may result in a wanted level.
  • The Paleto Score - After robbing the Blaine County Savings Bank in Paleto Bay, a five-star wanted level will be triggered. All military personnel are present during the shooting.
  • Pack Man - Triggers a two-star wanted level once the player drives to their current destination half-way, requiring Franklin to protect the stolen cars from the police using the JB 700. The wanted level will be upgraded to three-stars after switching to Franklin, and will go away after clearing all cops in the path.
  • Architect's Plans - Shooting and killing Chip Peterson holding the briefcase will trigger a three-star wanted level.
  • Fire Truck - Stealing a Fire Truck triggers a one-star wanted level.
  • Legal Trouble - Chasing Molly with her police escort triggers a two-star wanted level. Three-stars when entering LSIA.
  • The Bureau Raid - Roof Entry: Choosing an inexperienced driver in a Burrito will trigger a four-star wanted level. Choosing an experienced driver in an Ambulance, but shooting weapons when leaving the scene, will also trigger four-stars.
  • Driller - Being spotted by security guards and employees or alerting them will trigger a two-star wanted level.
  • The Big Score
    • Subtle Approach: Once the gold has been successfully loaded up in four Gauntlets, a five-star wanted level will be triggered until escaping to the freeway tunnels for two Pounders to load up the vehicles.
    • Obvious Approach: Switching to Michael or Franklin after escaping with Trevor and the chosen driver will trigger a five-star wanted level, the most difficult to escape from the police unless the player chooses a hiding place, such as tunnels.
  • The Third Way - Killing Steve Haines will trigger a two-star wanted level.

Grand Theft Auto Online

Non-Organization/MC Club Freemode Activity

  • Distract Cops - Entering the distraction zone begins a one-star wanted level and increases by one star every 2 minutes to reach five stars (PS3/Xbox 360).

VIP/CEO Works/Challenges

  • Asset Recovery - Stealing a target vehicle at the beginning of the VIP work triggers three stars when driving a motorcycle or four stars when driving a car. The level will decrease to two stars when arriving near the destination.
  • Hostile Takeover - (All wanted level status will remain until the player successfully delivers the briefcase)
    • Altruist Cult - Stealing the briefcase from Altruists triggers a three-star wanted level.
    • LSIA - Entering near the hangar of LSIA will trigger a four-star wanted level.
    • Merryweather Base - Stealing the briefcase from Merryweather will trigger a three-star wanted level.
    • Fort Zancudo - Entering the base and aiming triggers a five-star wanted level.
  • Headhunter - Wanted levels will trigger based on the player's actions if the bodyguards and the target were provoked.
    • Assassinating a second target gives every organization member a one-star wanted level. Two stars if a third target was assassinated. The wanted level status will be cleared once all targets are assassinated.
      • However, after finishing a mission, a one-star wanted level will be given if the player remains in the scene for too long while being spotted by bodyguards.
    • Attacking and/or destroying a moving target vehicle gives the player 1 to 2 stars. Destroying two target vehicles and/or killing a target by the same player with 2 stars gives them a three-star wanted level.
    • Provoking a target or bodyguards near the area will trigger a one-star wanted level.
  • Most Wanted - A VIP Challenge, initiated by the VIP/CEO, in which all players must survive a five-star wanted level for 10 minutes.
  • Courier Service - Collecting the bag of cash triggers a three-star wanted level until the player successfully delivers it to the destination.
  • Cashing Out - Sometimes a wanted level will trigger randomly between 1 to 3 stars if the player hacks an ATM.
  • Buy Special Cargo - Wanted levels between 1 to 3 stars will trigger based on the difficulty chosen. For example, buying one crate with a police mission triggers one star, two crates triggers two stars, and three crates three stars. The following missions involving wanted level:
    • Police Compound - Triggers upon entry to the police impound lot.
    • Ambush - Triggers when entering a special cargo vehicle waiting for the opportunity to trigger a chase, or by killing them.
    • Police Seizure - Triggers if shooting a Police Transporter containing special cargo.
    • Personnel Issue - Triggers if all targets and nearby NPCs get spooked.
    • Crash Site - Triggers if a player enters the crash site.
  • Vehicle Cargo - Like the special cargo missions, all missions that give wanted levels are based on the value of the vehicle. For example, sourcing a standard range vehicle involving a wanted level triggers one star, two stars if sourcing a mid range vehicle, and three stars if sourcing a top range vehicle. The following missions involve a wanted level:
    • Amateur Thief - Shooting and disrupting the police chase or vehicle cargo will always trigger a three-star wanted level regardless of its value.
    • Detective Work - Has a chance to trigger once the vehicle is reportedly stolen.
    • Mobile Vehicles - Has a chance to trigger once the vehicle is reportedly stolen, even if the owner of the vehicle is killed.
    • Heist Crew - Shooting any military personnel triggers a wanted level when trying to steal a Cargobob.
    • Movie Stunt - Triggers if security guards see a player killing one of them or being spotted stealing.
    • Traffic Stop - Triggers if arriving too close to their proximity of the driver and officers issuing a ticket.
    • Crime Scene - Triggers if the player enters the crime scene, even if the cops despawn.

Motorcycle Club Work/Missions/Challenges

  • By The Pound - Two stars will be given when the player meets up with an undercover drug dealer holding the product in Rogers Salvage & Scrap.
  • Jailbreak - Stealing the Prison Bus gives the player three stars, although the police difficulty has been reduced.
  • Nine Tenths of the Law - Stealing the motorcycles from La Mesa Police Station triggers a two-star wanted level, though a member that drives away from the station will clear the wanted level status for all MC members.
  • P.O.W. - Triggers two stars when arriving at one of the locations given.
    • Mission Row Police Station
    • LSIA Subway
  • Criminal Mischief - Biker Meleeing an occupied police vehicle on the map triggers a two-star wanted level.
  • On The Run - Triggers five stars when initiated by the Sergeant-at-Arms. In the mission, players must survive the police for 10 minutes on their motorcycles.

Gunrunning

  • Supplies/Steal Missions
    • Rhino Tank - Entering the training area while stealing a Rhino Tank triggers a four-star wanted level with the difficulty of cop presence reduced. The wanted level status will be cleared once the tank arrives near the bunker.
    • Youga Classic - Has a chance of triggering a one-star wanted level right after stealing the vehicle with supplies.
    • Distract Police - The Wanted level will cap up to four stars when at least one member of the organization distract all nearby cops. A wanted level will trigger if the distracting member drives too close to the supplies, failing to cooperate by stealing the vehicle without having a member gain 4 stars, or if the distracting member dies during a distraction.
    • Ballistic Equipment - A three-star wanted level will trigger when arriving too close to military personnel guarding the Ballistic Equipment.
  • Supplies/Sell Missions
    • Phantom Wedge - Upon entering the vehicle, a three-star wanted level will be given to all organization or MC members. The Wanted level status will be cleared once the Phantom arrives closer to the drop-off (A one-star wanted level will be gained, though, due to a glitch).
    • Insurgent Pick-Up Custom - Sometimes, an organization or MC will receive a wanted level upon delivering to the drop-off.

Restricted Areas

There are several restricted areas in GTA V that are off-limits to the protagonists and will automatically grant the player a wanted level should they trespass within. While inside any of these areas, the Lower Wanted Level cheat will not function, and the player will be unable to lose their heat unless they leave the area. Restricted areas include:

  • Fort Zancudo - Entering the base will give the player a four-star wanted level. Flying over it will give only two stars, although this will quickly escalate to four if the player does not move away quickly. However, as a part of Smuggler's Run DLC, it is unrestricted in GTA Online if the player owns a hangar at Fort Zancudo.
  • Bolingbroke Penitentiary - Entering the prison will give the player a four-star wanted level. Flying over it will give only two stars, although this will quickly escalate to four if the player does not move away quickly.
  • Humane Labs and Research - Entering the laboratory will give the player a four-star wanted level. It is unrestricted in Grand Theft Auto Online.
  • Los Santos Golf Club - In singleplayer, flying over the club, trespassing after hours, or driving a vehicle other than the Caddy and Lawn Mower on the golf course itself will give the player a two-star wanted level, unless the player owns the club. It is unrestricted in Grand Theft Auto Online.
  • Los Santos Naval Port - Entering the secure military area at the port will give the player a four-star wanted level. It is unrestricted in Grand Theft Auto Online.
  • Los Santos International Airport - Driving onto the airport tarmac will give the player a three-star wanted level. Flying over it will warrant two stars, but will escalate to three if the player doesn't move away quickly. However, if Michael and/or Franklin purchase an aircraft hangar, they will be able to access the airport without a wanted level. As Trevor cannot purchase a hangar at Los Santos International, he will always gain a wanted level. The airport is unrestricted in Grand Theft Auto Online.
  • Kortz Center - Entering the Center whilst it is closed will earn the player a one-star wanted level.
  • Backlot City - Entering the studio will give the player a two-star wanted level. However, after the mission Mr. Richards, all three characters can enter the area without restriction. It is unrestricted in Grand Theft Auto Online.
  • Mission Row Police Station - Going behind the front desk or trespassing the staircase or the rooftop will give the player a three-star wanted level. Flying over the police station will warrant two stars, but will escalate to three if the player doesn't move away quickly or lands on the roof. It is unrestricted in Grand Theft Auto Online, but can only be accessed via the back door in the parking lot while in Freemode. It has since been patched, thus restricting players from gaining access to the police station at all.

Military

While the military will never be called in to pursue the player, military personnel may become involved in the chase if it occurs near Fort Zancudo. Typically this involves soldiers in Crusaders, who will give chase to the player and attempt to arrest them in GTA V, although they will shoot the player if they resist arrest. On the base itself, military personnel will shoot to kill. Any patrolling Rhino tanks will also become involved and may exit the base to join the pursuit if the player stays too close for too long, using their cannons to try and kill the player.

In-game instruction

In the mission Franklin and Lamar, when the player gets a wanted level for the first time, the following instructions will appear:

  • Your wanted level is shown by the number of stars on screen. One or more stars and the cops will be alerted.
  • The Radar flashes red and blue when the cops can see you.
  • When out of sight of the cops, the wanted stars will flash and cones will appear on the Radar to show the area they are searching.
  • To lose a wanted level, stay out of the cones until the cops call off the search. Hide in alleys or in the dark to stay out their sight.

Escaping a Wanted Level

Rail and tunnel map of Grand Theft Auto V.

To escape a wanted level, the player must stay out of sight of the police pursuers (in the "cone search mode") for a period of time (the length of time depends on the severity of the wanted level). When the wanted stars in the corner of the screen are flashing, it means the player is out of sight. The slower they are flashing, the closer the player is to escaping. If a police pursuer spots the player and the chase reverts to active mode, the escape timer will reset.

In GTA Online, the player is able to call Lester Crest after achieving rank 21 to immediately remove the wanted level for a fee of $200 per star.

If the player is flying an Akula in GTA Online while having a wanted level of 3 or more stars, activating its stealth mode will reduce the wanted level to 2 stars, thus making it easier for the player to lose the remaining stars.

In Singleplayer and Online, the player can reduce their wanted level by one star by changing their appearance - this can be done by putting on or taking off a mask or sunglasses while the search is in "search cone" mode. This will mean they have less time to wait out the search.

Failure to escape will result in the player either being arrested or (in GTA Online especially) killed. If the player is within a block radius of their Personal Vehicle, their vehicle will be impounded.

Using the railway system is perhaps the easiest way to escape because the police have a hard time following the player on rail. They will not drive on the tracks and will only follow on foot into railway tunnels (where they can be sniped before they trigger detection).

In GTA Online, for each star that the player successfully evades (not removes), they will receive 100 RP, so evading five stars rewards 500 RP.

Achievements/Trophies


Soundtracks

Many different scores can play during wanted levels, with growing intensity as wanted stars are gained. These soundtracks will begin to play shortly after obtaining at least 3 wanted stars, and will play when on foot or in a vehicle without the radio on. These soundtracks only play when Music Volume is active. Some soundtracks are specific to area; wanted soundtracks in Blaine County differ from those in Los Santos County.

The soundtracks have several phases, including the cooldown zone, and each soundtrack has special stems which play when the player is hidden or losing their wanted level. A special sound effect also plays when the player loses their wanted level.

Wanted level soundtracks overrule the flying soundtrack, which plays while in an aircraft, but do not overrule mission soundtracks.

The wanted level soundtracks, like regular mission soundtracks or radio music, do not play in the Rockstar Editor. Wanted level tracks do not play in Director Mode.

Trivia

  • Unlike previous games in the series, saving the game will not clear the wanted level, and when loading the game it will reappear, particularly a quick save.
  • If the player is in a vehicle and being chased by the police, civilians may occasionally help the police by either attempting to ram the player's vehicle off the road, or by blocking the player's path.
    • Similarly, if one disables a police vehicle but does not kill the police officers, the officers may commandeer a civilian car to continue the pursuit.
  • The cone shapes on the radar during a wanted level are comparable to the police search mechanic first seen in the Driver series. It is also similar to the Wanted Level system in Bully, another Rockstar game.
  • It is possible to lose the cops by hiding in bushes, around trees and entering the tram (if in a bush, be wary that helicopters will still shoot at the player even if they are out of sight of the police).
  • Should the player gain a wanted level during a mission, they will be prompted to lose it and the mission will be suspended until the wanted level is lost. It is however, possible to instantly disable the wanted level using the remove wanted level cheat codes since the game does not discourage the player from activating this cheat during missions.
  • NOOSE teams and Security Guards do not attempt to arrest the player, but security guards will shoot at them even if they have a one-star wanted level. Unlike Grand Theft Auto IV, NOOSE teams could arrest the player.
    • However at a one-star wanted level, Security guards will cease fire when police officers arrive at the scene to arrest the player, although this occurs only in GTA V.
  • In Grand Theft Auto Online, the player can hide in their apartment or garage to lose their wanted level; however, similar to the Los Santos Customs, the player can only enter if they are out of sight of the police. Police will occasionally spawn near the player's apartment if they have a high wanted level. However some properties (e.g. Biker Business or Bunker) can be accessed even if the police can see the player.
  • If Michael enters his house or Trevor enters his strip club with a two or more star wanted level, anyone inside (Michael's family and the strip club staff) will evacuate the building.
  • If the player is hanging out with one of the main protagonists and they have a wanted level, the other two protagonists will fire upon the police to get them away from whomever the player is controlling. Other friends (except for Amanda) will stick their middle finger at the police and insult them.
  • The LSSD (Los Santos County Sheriff's Department) will have no differences with the LSPD in driving and gunfight tactics (despite Lester claiming that the LSPD officers receive better training in Paleto Score Setup).
  • The San Andreas Highway Patrol will pursue the player using Police Bikes and shoot players with their pistol even if having only one star. Notice that they do not appear normally during pursuits, and only chase the player if roaming near a spawn point (such as near a highway).
  • If the player is on the road with a wanted level, police vehicles will sometimes spawn ahead on the road either slowly driving or remaining stationary, with their sirens off. This replicates a normal patrolling vehicle that is not aware of the player's approach but has the side-effect of causing players to confuse the police vehicles with other civilian vehicles in the traffic.
  • It is possible for the player to escape the police in locations that would appear to be easily accessible to the pursuers. For example, the police will very rarely chase a player into the subway construction tunnel leading off the Del Perro Freeway under the Alta Street overpass.
  • In Grand Theft Auto Online, there are several places where the search cone mode seems to ignore the vertical axis and police above ground can "see" players hiding in underground tunnels with no direct line of sight to the player.
  • Should the player be in a stationary vehicle whilst out of sight of the police, the protagonist inside can be seen looking around anxiously until the police spot the player or give up.
  • In the enhanced version, the police will drive-by shoot at the player if they fire at the police while in a vehicle.
    • However, in Grand Theft Auto Online, the police will always drive-by shoot at the player if they acquires four stars or more.
  • In Grand Theft Auto Online, if the player looks at another player who has a wanted level, a star can be seen next to the wanted player's name, containing a number (from 1 to 5) reflecting the severity of the wanted level they have.
  • When playing as Franklin, The Families will shoot at the cops if the player has a one or two-star wanted level. However, at three stars or more, they will simply run away.
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