The Vigilante mission is a vehicle-based side mission in every GTA III Era 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, such as a Police Car).

Brown Thunder is an identical side mission, which can be activated from a Hunter attack helicopter in the games in which that vehicle appears.



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 seconds, the occupant(s) will bail out and run or attempt to acquire new transport (watch out, 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 enough. 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 Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, criminals will have the ability to drive-by. The player has to be ready to flee as well, as some of the criminals come very heavily armed with, for example, Rugers and Pump Action 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 the Fort Baxter Air Base tend to destroy criminal vehicles easily due to always spawning in groups and carrying the powerful M4s.

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, allowing you to engage them in a firefight or simply run them over.
  • 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.

The mission is failed if the player remains outside of a Law Enforcement vehicle for more than 60 seconds in one go, if the player dies or is busted, or of course if the player runs out of time.

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 you might rack up your wanted level faster than you can find police bribes. Each time a Vigilante mission is started, the player must begin at Level 1, and cannot continue a previously failed or canceled mission. GTA Vice City Stories has a checkpoint every five levels so you can restart at that checkpoint if you failed or canceled before completion.

In GTA III and 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.

GTA III / GTA Vice City-specific tips

GTA San Andreas-specific tips

  • A police bike (HPV-1000) lets you fire forward, is very maneuverable, and takes little damage.
  • Once you can recruit gang members (after Grove 4 Life), it makes this mission a lot easier. The more turf you control, the more places you can pick up more gang members mid mission.
  • If you equip a TEC-9 or MP5, you will find more gang members carrying them.
  • After about level 3, when suspect vehicles fire at you, a gang member in your vehicle will fire back, allowing you to fire less, and draw less police attention.
  • If your wanted level gets to two stars, sixty seconds is more than enough to buy a new shirt and get out of the clothing store and back in the police vehicle.
  • There is always a car parked outside The Well Stacked Pizza Co. in Idlewood, Los Santos. Park a police vehicle there, and you can take the civilian car across the street to the Pay 'n' Spray and get back within sixty seconds as well.
  • Sixty seconds is also more than enough time to stop in a restaurant to regain health, an Ammu-Nation for armor and SMGs, or to park police vehicle in a safe house garage, and let it be fixed there (though the wanted level remains).


In GTA IV and GTA Chinatown Wars, the Vigilante missions are retooled. When Niko or Huang accesses a police car, 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; and Suspect on foot, which consists of only one criminal fleeing a crime scene, and are usually the easiest. In GTA IV, 20 missions must be completed for the Cleaned The Mean Streets achievement/trophy and for completion. The 20 missions however do not need to be done consecutively. In addition, there is a new form of the mission called Most Wanted. In GTA Chinatown Wars, the side-mission automatically ends when you kill the last criminal on each wave, and to restart it you must reenter a Law Enforcement vehicle and access the Police Computer, so you don't have to beat all five waves consecutively to obtain the Gold Medal, as long as the chain is completed without failure.

The ability to call for police backup (by dialling 911 on a cell/mobile phone) can also assist the player. Arriving police officers will begin shooting the criminal and eventually kill them. Firing a weapon, however, will lead to the player obtaining a wanted level (however the wanted level automatically disappears once the last criminal is killed). The player can not use the option to call from back-up from the Police Car for this purpose.

The GTA IV version has a glitch in that occasionally the time limit given for getting to the scene of the crime, the length of which is usually determined by Niko's proximity, is simply too short to physically get to (for example, having to go halfway across Broker in 20 seconds).


  • +1 Police Bribe at the Hideouts (Total 10 Kills in Portland)
  • +1 Police Bribe at the Hideouts (Total 20 Kills in Portland)
  • +1 Police Bribe at the Hideouts (Total 10 Kills in Staunton Island)
  • +1 Police Bribe at the Hideouts (Total 20 Kills in Staunton Island)
  • +1 Police Bribe at the Hideouts (Total 10 Kills in Shoreside Vale)
  • +1 Police Bribe at the Hideouts (Total 20 Kills in Shoreside Vale)
GTA Vice City
  • Maximum Armor Increased by 50% (Complete Level 12)
GTA San Andreas
  • Maximum Armor Increased by 50% (Complete Level 12)
GTA Liberty City Stories
  • Maximum Armor Increased by 50% (Complete Level 12)
GTA Vice City Stories
  • Maximum Armor Increased by 50% (Complete Level 15)
GTA Chinatown Wars
  • Maximum Armor Increased by 100% (Get Gold Medal)



  • In GTA IV, 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).
  • In GTA Liberty City Stories, the Barracks OL is not intended to be used on Vigilante.
  • Playing this side-mission in a heavy duty vehicle (a Rhino for example) or a Hunter is one of the quickest ways in-game to effectively rack up literally millions of dollars in just one sitting.

See also