PAYDAY 3 – Stealth Mechanics Guide

A broad guide on casing mode and masked stealth.

Public Areas

Public areas are spaces where heisters are allowed to walk freely. While the vast majority of interesting stealth gameplay happens outside of public areas, there are still a handful of neat tricks you can use.


Guards will investigate the following objects and activate Search Mode after several seconds:

  • Breached doors
  • Cracked or broken glass
  • Damaged cameras

Civilians can notice and call in broken glass, but no effect will actually occur.

If a guard happens to notice another vandalized object during Search Mode, they will move towards it to investigate it, but no further penalty will occur.


The following effects will notify NPCs across the map and begin the assault:

  • Unsilenced gunshots
  • Sentry gunshots (the sentries themselves aren’t noticed by NPCs)
  • Explosions (grenades, fire extinguishers, etc.)

Inappropriate Behavior

Holding a tool (MicroCam, Infrasonic Mine, etc.) in front of a guard will cause them to detect you. Upon being fully detected, they will detain you.

Pressing E to bring up your phone and activate your tool is not suspicious.

Slow Down, Pal!

You can bump into a guard who is not otherwise busy (not escorting, searching, blocking a door, etc.) to force them to face you for several seconds. This can allow another player to steal a keycard off their back, or otherwise draw their attention away from something important.

Illegal Actions

Except when affected by a skill, all NPCs will detect you when you perform an illegal action like picking a lock or taking loot. The only legal actions you may perform are to scan phones for QR codes, open unlocked doors, and hack cameras or radios.

In general, it only matters if you are observed when you finish the action. Lockpicking is immediately suspicious, even before you finish.

Suspicious Bags

Guards can detect unattended bags in all areas. If they happen to see an unattended bag, they will path to it. After arriving near the bag, they will briefly inspect the surrounding area (for no more than 6 seconds), then activate Search Mode if the bag is not removed before then.

When a guard is initially investigating the area around a bag, the investigation can be ended with no penalty by either picking up the bag or hacking their radio before the icon above their head turns into a red walkie-talkie. The very instant this icon appears, Search Mode is guaranteed to occur.

During Search Mode, guards will continue to investigate suspicious bags, but no further penalties will occur.

Cameras will never detect suspicious bags for any reason.

Slamming Doors

If you happen to find a guard near a door, you can push them by opening or closing the door up to twice. If you do it a third time before allowing the guard to cool down, the guard will immediately decide to arrest you.

Private Areas


A guard will demand to escort you when you are fully detected in casing mode in a private area. If you are in a secure area, or masked, they will instead attempt to detain you.

When a guard tries to initiate an escort, a visual indicator will be placed around the area where you were spotted. You can start the escort sooner by immediately running to the guard.

The following conditions will result in the guard peacefully ending the escort.

  • You hack the guard’s radio and escape before the guard can detect you again.
  • You follow the guard into a public area, remaining within close proximity until they dismiss you.

The following conditions will result in the guard detaining you.

  • Moving away from the guard and staying outside of their leash range. (Entering a public area will still alert the guard.)
  • Using doors to push/stagger a guard three times before they’re allowed to cool down.

If you are spotted in casing mode by a camera, a guard will be assigned to investigate the area and potentially escort you to a public area. If they complete their investigation without any escorts being started, Search Mode will begin; getting escorted by a different guard will not begin Search Mode. Thus, your priority upon being spotted by a camera should be to start an escort.

A guard will escort you as many times as needed. If you want to stay in/near the current location, mask up or hack their radio, otherwise run towards them to quickly start an escort, follow them into a public area, and you’ll never raise the alarm.

If a guard assigned to watch cameras is forced to escort you, this will disable cameras for the remainder of the map. Currently, No Rest For the Wicked is the only heist where this is possible (all other camera rooms are Secure Areas.)


Keypads are one of several means to gate progression in stealth heists. When a keypad is accepting inputs, you can move close to it to activate a light that reveals up to 4 fingerprints (not including the ✓). These fingerprints, naturally, will occur on the digits of the correct password. If you don’t want to figure out the code the intended way (such as when competing the relevant objective would require masking up), you can use a keypad solver to view every possible passcode.

Upon an incorrect passcode, a keypad will be locked for several seconds. The time that a keypad remains locked depends on the map: No Rest For the Wicked keypads are locked for 10 seconds, and Gold & Sharke keypads are locked for 20 seconds.

As RNG elements are seeded each time you join a lobby, the code (as well as other random elements) will remain the same each time you restart the same map.

Secure Areas

Secure areas are where stealth runs go to die. Nearly every possible guard interaction in secure areas is a negative one that either breaks stealth or costs you a pager.


Escorts do not occur when you are spotted in a Secure Area; guards who spot you in Secure Areas will attempt to detain you immediately.


Sprinting in Secure Areas will cause nearby guards to investigate wherever they heard you sprinting. Avoid sprinting except to manipulate a specific guard’s path.

You can sprint in Public and Private Areas with no penalty.

Specific Heists

Specific interactions will be noted here when discovered.

Gold & Sharke

  • The guard in the vault lobby will activate Search Mode if they see the vault door open. The normal patrol path does not bring them near the vault door, they only do this if they hear you sprinting.

The Short Version

Stealth is generally dependent on everybody knowing what they’re doing, but sometimes you’ll just get unlucky. Here’s a brief tl;dr of less obvious pain points.

  • If somebody gets spotted by a camera, immediately drop what you are doing to make sure that a guard finds somebody to escort into a public area.
  • If necessary, you can start an escort early by running to a guard after they have detected you.
  • Escorts are free and you can do them infinitely. Make good use of them.
  • Bags are only suspicious if they get left alone for several seconds. If you’re in casing mode, you can move multiple bags to the van.

1 Comment

  1. Good guides like this get buried underneath a sea of people posting some random loadout they like without elaborating at all 10 separate times in a row

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