Getting busted in Grand Theft Auto IV.

GTA 3 - Busted00:46

GTA 3 - Busted

The term 'Busted' refers to the player being arrested by the police or any other type of law enforcement in a Grand Theft Auto game as a result of having and failure to escape from a wanted level. As wanted levels progress higher, the law enforcement is more likely to attempt to kill the player rather than arrest them, although if given the chance, they will still attempt to pull the player out of their vehicle.

Many factors can contribute to this:

  • Being pulled from a vehicle, or having the player's vehicle door successfully opened by a member of law enforcement.
  • Being beaten several times by a law enforcement officer carrying a Nightstick in quick succession.
  • A military or police officer managing to pull open the hatch of a player-controlled Rhino.
  • Being on the ground when a member of law enforcement is within a certain radius. This tends to happen if the player engages in melee combat with a member of law enforcement, and is knocked to the ground.
  • Attempting to ride off in a police motorcycle while the officer is nearby, causing them to throw the player off the bike.
  • Being knocked to the ground while attempting to steal a law enforcement vehicle, with an agent inside.


As a result of getting busted, the player has their body armor and all of their weapons confiscated, and will fail any mission that was in progress at the time of arrest. The player will also have to pay a fee of $100. In Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, the player also loses all of their garage-stored vehicles, in Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, any drugs currently held by the player are confiscated, and in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, the player's fee is determined by how many wanted stars the player got busted with:

  1. $100
  2. $200
  3. $400
  4. $600
  5. $900
  6. $1,500

In Grand Theft Auto V, getting arrested on a mission gives the player the option to retry from a certain checkpoint, though some Gold medal objectives (such as time or accuracy) will be disabled, preventing 100% completion. If the player declines the option to retry, they will respawn outside the nearest police station and lose their money.



In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, if Carl is dating Barbara Schternvart, the player's weapons will not be lost.

In Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, the player's confiscated weapons can be returned for $2000. They will be processed at the closest precinct, and a small amount of money will also be taken by the police as a bribe.

In the mobile versions of Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, the player won't lose their weapons upon getting busted.

In Grand Theft Auto V, only ammo and body armor are confiscated. If the player has a weapon out when being busted, they will also lose that weapon.


In Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, if Toni has completed level 15 of the Avenging Angel Missions in Staunton Island, he will not have to pay a fee if getting busted.


In Grand Theft Auto IV and Grand Theft Auto V, the player is permitted to resist arrest by breaking away during the arrest. This can only be done if being held at gunpoint by an officer. Doing so will earn the player a two-star wanted level, and cause the arresting officer (and any others in the vicinity) to engage the player with their firearm.



  • In the 3D Universe and HD Universe, if the player is arrested, the law enforcement officers will aim their weapon as a pistol, regardless of what weapon they carry. This is most likely an animation error.
  • In all the games of the 3D Universe, once a player is arrested and the "BUSTED!" words appear on the screen nothing can undo this. If the cop dies during the busted sequence the player will not get up (except if the player takes explosive damage or inputs some cheats) and will remain on the ground or in their car (if a vehicular arrest has been performed). Also, it is impossible to go from the "BUSTED!" sequence to the "WASTED!" sequence as the player will be invulnerable to any type of damage while in the "BUSTED" sequence. However, if the player takes explosion damage while "BUSTED" appear, the player can regain control only for few seconds before they begin transported to the nearest police station. Despite in some occasions, taking this type of damage will sometimes make the player die and their health will be depleted completely (Although "WASTED!" is replaced by "BUSTED!") but they still stand in front of the police stations after the black screen.
  • In the 3D Universe (except for GTA San Andreas), if the player dies with an officer of the law nearby, the officer will pull out his pistol just as if he is arresting the player (regardless of whether they had a wanted level or not). However, the words "WASTED!" will still appear on the screen and the player will still be respawned at the nearest hospital.
  • In the 3D Universe, if the player is arrested by an officer who was killed then revived by a paramedic, the officer will still use pistol arrest animation while his hand is empty.
    • This also happens in GTA IV if the player shot the police officer's pistol off his hand and then got arrested by getting pulled out of the car.
  • No matter what crimes the player did commit, police will always let the player go after taking them to the police station.

GTA London

  • In Grand Theft Auto: London 1969 and London 1961, "Busted" is instead known as "You're Nicked!" This is a common British slang phrase associated with being arrested, said by the arresting officer to the offender. It was popularized by 1970s and 1980s British television police dramas such as The Sweeney.


  • In GTA 2, there is a little joke where after the player is taken to the police station, he/she will be thrown out of a moving police car when they let him/her go although they can jump out before being thrown. Presumably this is to fit in with the dystopian rough theme the game has.
  • When on foot in the Game Boy Color version, police officers will only need to collide with the Protagonist in order to "Bust" them. This was likely to compensate for the omission of unarmed combat from this version of the game. On the other hand, police officers are unable to pull people out of their car in this version, but they will still be able to crowd around the vehicle to obstruct their movement.


  • In the Grand Theft Auto III beta, when Claude was busted it showed red and yellow letters reading busted. This was changed to a simple orange color in the final version.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

  • Occasionally, during the blank screen after being busted, the player can hear Ken Rosenberg, Tommy's lawyer, talking (presumably with the police) in an attempt to get Tommy released (e.g. "Tommy Vercetti is an innocent man!") Following this, the player will be respawned in front of the nearest police station.

GTA San Andreas

  • CJ's scripted arrests in In the Beginning and The Green Sabre do not contribute to his busted stat.
  • Prior to GTA San Andreas, the police officer can arrest the player from opening the passenger door. While in GTA San Andreas, the police officer will usually arrest the player by opening the driver door, though rarely, he may open the passenger door to arrest the player.
  • He may also open the passenger door if the driver door is blocked to arrest the player.
  • It is possible for the word WASTED to appear on the screen when Carl is arrested. If the player types the commit suicide cheat before the police officer fully knocks them to the ground (especially on a motorcycle), he will simply die with WASTED; if done this after that, there will simply be an arrest animation with BUSTED but the health bar was already depleted out, however the officer and Carl will still insult each other because of a continuity error, which is odd since the deceased cannot talk anyway; if done this correctly at the right time, the WASTED sign will appear on the screen and both the word and the arrest scene will show. This is most likely a glitch, however the player respawns at the nearest hospital instead. (Confirmed on PC)
    • This can also happen if the officer fully opens the door of the vehicle that Carl is in just as the same time the car explodes by whatever reason.
  • Carl Johnson originally was supposed not to taunt officers arrested him (e.g. Shut the fuck up bitch.) in the beta version, instead, there was simply some words from the officer, like GTA Vice City. But this feature was removed before the game's release for unknown reasons.
    • Furthermore, his insults were supposed not to have profane words, but ended up this was taken out.
  • If Carl is busted at the edge of a high building, the officer spawned on the top will sometimes knock him over with Carl falling down to the ground and he will be wasted with a blood splash sound because of the fall but he won't scream. This is more than likely a glitch, but sometimes CJ will still taunt the officers arresting him which is a continuity error.
  • If the player is busted by being knocked over from a motorcycle from an officer on the tram track when a Tram is travelling on it, the tram will sometimes run over the officer and the player may regain control for a few seconds.
  • If CJ is busted when doing a bunny hop on a bike the busted screen will appear in mid-air.
  • The busted screen will appear underwater if the player was knocked down to the water by an officer.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories

  • In the game when the player throws a punch in the air, without hitting any near pedestrian, the pedestrian who was near the punching animation will be angry and attack the player. If did near a cop, he will act like a 1-star wanted level and if the player sits in a car, he will open the door and arrest him/her, even without a wanted level. The player will also lose their weapons and vehicles.

Grand Theft Auto IV

  • When an NPC gets arrested in Grand Theft Auto IV, driving a police vehicle will occasionally have the officer and criminal enter the player's vehicle and after a few seconds he/she will recieve a wanted level and the officer and criminal will exit the vehicle when it stops. If the player leaves the vehicle near the criminal and officer, they will enter the vehicle and begin to drive away. Stealing the vehicle back will not earn the player a wanted level.
  • In GTA IV, when an NPC is being arrested and no police car pulls over to pick up the officer and criminal, the criminal is more than likely to run away and/or attack the officer. This can be prevented with the use of cheats, the FIB Buffalo spawn cheat, or by providing the police with a suitable law enforcement vehicle of their own. If the vehicle is close enough to the officer, they will direct the criminal into the back seat and drive away with them. The officer may also utter a comment such as "A good samaritan? Rare sight in this city!", or "Is this some sort of a trick, asshole?.. Thanks, I guess." They may also say "Thanks man, we need more people like you." This varies depending on the officers, as some of them are rude, and some of them are thankful, although this does not affect the main gameplay.
    • It was possible that doing this would supposedly award the player with the "Good Citizen Bonus" ($50) from GTA VC and GTA LCS in the beta version, but was cut with unexplainable reasons, probably because of the different game settings, and replaced with an occasionally random 1-star wanted level instead.
  • In GTA IV, there is no message reading "Busted" on the screen when being arrested. Instead, the screen will turn grey and, after a few seconds, the player will be returned to the nearest police station. However, if something interrupts the police officer doing the "arrest" animation (such as a car crashing into them), the game will glitch and it will continue showing the slow-mo scene until the player presses the left mouse-button, which skips the scene. Skipping with the mouse also works when they simply don't want to watch the whole busted scene. This is the only game not to feature the word "Busted" and also "Wasted".
  • In GTA IV, if Niko Bellic has a wanted level while he is drunk, the cops will wait for him to sober up before attempting to arrest him.
  • In GTA IV, if the player is arrested in the passenger seat (not to be confused as a passenger in a taxi) via trainers in singleplayer, the police will simply use the generic carjacking animation to pull the player out. When pulled out, the officer will be simply shooting at the player instead of playing the arrest animation. This is because in multiplayer, the police lack an arrest function.

GTA Chinatown Wars

  • In the PlayStation Portable and Nintendo DS versions of Chinatown Wars, cheating wanted stars away with a cop on foot will result in the cop opening a door on a random vehicle and walking away.
  • The police arrest the player by running up to them once their health is low. The player is then knocked on to the ground and "BUSTED" appears.
  • WASTED and BUSTED have returned in this game, this is the first game to have the words reappeared.
  • When Huang is arrested, there will be a cop car siren lighting and a gun shot played in the background.

Grand Theft Auto V

  • In GTA V, when the player is busted, the scene is a combination of what happens when they get busted in the 3D Universe games and GTA IV; the screen turns black and white (like GTA IV), with the "BUSTED" word appearing later on (like in the 3D Universe games).
  • In Grand Theft Auto V, when the player gets busted they won't lose their guns, but ammo and body armor is confiscated after bail is paid (though the Stun Gun can still be used afterwards due to its unlimited ammunition).
  • When the player is busted in the Brazilian Portuguese version of GTA V, the advice is instead "Perdeu, Playboy", roughly translatable into "You lost, pal", a common Brazilian term for being caught red handed.
  • In GTA V, if the player is 'drunk driving', pedestrians might make remarks and call the cops.
  • If the player has a wanted level in first person they may be busted without noticing.
  • If the player double clicks the "SHIFT" pad, they will automatically stop putting the character's hands up and officers will begin to shoot them and they will die.
  • When the player gets arrested in a mission, the term Busted isn't used, but instead it'll show "Michael was arrested", "Franklin was arrested", or "Trevor was arrested" as a failure reason (along with the "Mission Failed" message, as if it was the normal mission failure).