Any ships that you steal in Star Citizen will disappear the moment you log out of the game, making it impossible to build your personal fleet through theft, Cloud Imperium Games has said. Stealing ships should be a "short-term goal" for "joyriding, piracy or selling them for scrap", not for growing your collection, system designer Will Maiden said on a forum post. But some players are miffed by the decision, which appears to limit the scope for being a space pirate.
There are good arguments on both sides. From CIG's perspective, they have to ensure that the game's ship insurance system is not open to abuse. Players will take out in-game insurance on their ships so that if it is stolen they are able to get a new one. That potentially opens up exploits because—as the person that started the forum thread points out—you could let a friend "steal" your ship, claim on it to get a replacement, and they'd still have the original. Deleting stolen ships bypasses that problem.
But if you wanted to be a pirate then you might be disappointed. Stealing ships for your collection sounds like a lot of fun. And perhaps there were more elegant ways to solve the problem that fit in with the fiction of the universe: the developer has previously said that stealing a ship will invalidate its hull ID code, which will make it difficult to sell. Also, without that code you can't land on any lawful planets, and in-game law enforcement will be after you.
If that system were robust enough then it could solve the problem on its own, I think. Players would have less motivation to steal or commit insurance fraud because they wouldn't be able to do much with the resultant ship. They'd be able to add it to their collection and look at it, sure, but actually getting anything done in-game would be difficult. They'd have to stick to the shady parts of the universe, which increases the risk of someone else pinching it. In other words, if you want to be a pirate, you can, but there are consequences (although perhaps this is just the armchair developer in me coming out).
But alas, it seems CIG's mind is made up. And being a pirate will still be a fun option, I reckon. You'll be able to steal valuable cargo, break down ships for scrap and sell them, and generally cause havoc.
Thanks to the Reddit user that raised the issue. What do you think of the decision?