The classic method of Bethesda bucket burglary doesn’t work in Starfield, as confirmed by our own Morgan Park, who placed not only buckets but also bins and boxes on the heads of various NPCs. All of them were still able to see him commit theft, though none of them cared he was plonking objects over their faces. That doesn’t mean you can’t commit ingenious criminal acts by manipulating objects, however.
As Dave78905 demonstrated on the Starfield subreddit, you can still facilitate the acquisition of a shiny new gun using a bucket or, indeed, a plastic bin. A store in The Well area of New Atlantis plays host to this heist, which begins with sneakily picking up a bin while crouched and out of the shop-owner’s line of sight. (You grab objects without putting them in your inventory by holding the E key, or A on an Xbox controller. It doesn’t work with equippable gear like guns in Starfield, or this might be even easier.)
Starfield advanced stealing method from r/Starfield
Picking up that bin counts as an act of theft if you do it in front of the shopkeeper, but apparently walking out of the storage room holding it at arm’s length is perfectly fine. As is abusing the physics system to nudge an expensive automatic rifle off the shelf and out the door in increments with it. The owner even politely steps out of the way to let the thief pass.
It’s an inventive robbery, bringing back memories of lifting everything from the Riverwood Trader in Skyrim, or Silver Rush in New Vegas—to hell with the Van Graffs anyway. Sure, you could just wait until the owner turns around and yoink that gear while crouching for the same effect. But playing with the consequences of 3D physics, whether it’s putting a bucket on an NPC’s head or building a ladder to the sky out of Oblivion’s paintbrushes, is part of the fun in Bethesda’s games. We wouldn’t have it any other way.