How to Reduce Your Wanted Level in "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City"
By James Holloway
Updated September 22, 2017
When you break the law in "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City," you'll see one or more stars appear below your life meter in the upper right corner of the screen. Continue to break the law and the number of stars will increase; the more stars, the more aggressive the police will be in pursuing you. A six-star wanted level triggers a guns-blazing military manhunt. You can avoid the long arm of the law using several methods.
Avoiding the Law
Your wanted level will decrease automatically over time, as long as you are out of sight of the police. At low levels, it's relatively easy to avoid the police; at higher levels they will pursue you avidly. Therefore, simply laying low and staying out of sight is a better strategy at lower wanted levels. Jump in a fast car and head for another area of Vice City. As you drive, you'll see your wanted level gradually going down. You can also head for a cop-free location such as an alleyway or the inside of a building to wait until the heat dies down.
Using a Pay 'n' Spray
Changing your car's appearance using a Pay 'n' Spray will misdirect the police, although getting an entirely new car somehow doesn't fool them at all. To reduce your wanted level, drive to the nearest Pay 'n' Spray and have your car's color changed. Your wanted stars will begin to flash. Don't commit any crimes while they're flashing and you'll see them disappear. If you do commit a crime, however, your full original wanted level will return. Be warned that the Pay 'N' Spray will not accept bicycles or most emergency vehicles.
Collecting Police Bribes
Scattered around Vice City are a number of symbols representing Police Bribes. These resemble a rotating star-shaped badge surrounded by a pink field. When you drive or walk over a Bribe, it will immediately lower your wanted level by one star. However, there are not many of these items in Vice City and they're spread over a wide area, with no more than three in any one neighborhood. They're a nice bonus, but don't rely on these to help you if you have a high wanted level.
Breaking the Rules
Sometimes your wanted level will get so high that you just want it gone right away. A cheat exists to get rid of your wanted level. On the PS2, hit the "R1" button twice, followed by the "Circle" button. Next, hit the "R2" button. On the D-pad, push up and then down, repeating the sequence twice more. On the Xbox, pull the right trigger twice, then press the "B" button. Next, press the black button and complete the cheat code by pushing up and down three times in sequence on the D-pad. If you're playing on a PC, type in "leavemealone" -- without the quotation marks -- to remove your wanted level.
Dr James Holloway has been writing about games, geek culture and whisky since 1995. A former editor of "Archaeological Review from Cambridge," he has also written for Fortean Times, Fantasy Flight Games and The Unspeakable Oath. A graduate of Cambridge University, Holloway runs the blog Gonzo History Gaming.