Can I have a character whose class is not primarily based on stealth also frequently and effectively steal? I haven't read the Players Handbook.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Why do you think a thief is required to be a rogue or that a rogue can only be a thief? What rules have you read? Have you looked at the Player's Handbook to see what it says about rogues and thieves? Please give us more details about what's confusing you. \$\endgroup\$ – Purple Monkey May 10 '19 at 11:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to rpg.se! Take the tour and visit the help center when you get a chance, you'll get a badge for the effort. As the other comment say, if you can add more context or detail about what your issue is we will be able to give you. Thanks for participating and happy gaming! \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin May 10 '19 at 11:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for updating your question! Just so you know you can access the Basic Rules for D&D5e here and here for free. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose May 10 '19 at 13:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AgentPaper Please do not answer in comments. You need to wait until the question is opened before you can provide your answer. Comments are clarifying, not for answering. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 10 '19 at 13:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you elaborate on what you mean whem you say "steal"? There are so many many ways to steal. There's basic pickpocketing, breaking and entering, highway robbery, snatch-and-grab, the short con, the long con, preying on the weak and gullible, fraud, embezzlement, bamboozlement, strong-arming, protection rackets, piracy, criminal enterprises invasion (home or nation), lawyering, and politics, just to name a very, very few, only some of which calls for actual stealth. What did you have in mind? \$\endgroup\$ – Jack May 10 '19 at 14:31

Yes, it's possible

While the general answer is YES, it will still rely on your Dexterity ability score and your choices in skills.

Ability scores will be dependent on dice rolls, point buy, or arrays (whichever you use), but skills can be provided by your race, class, or background. Even if you don't choose a race/class combo that has what you're looking for - you may be able to find it in a background (or use a custom background that's approved by your DM.) The Criminal/Spy is a good starting point for deception/stealth, but the PHB's Urchin will give you stealth/sleight of hand.

The bounded accuracy of 5e really shows itself here in skills. This is great because it means lots of different character designs can cross over and while you may not equivalently as good, it's still pretty close.

If being stealthy or having a good sleight of hand is important to your design, I'd recommend increasing your Dexterity and selecting those skill proficiencies.

You can do it frequently, but not necessarily always effectively

But that's not really different from any other class. Being effective is going to depend on the task and the DC set by the DM. You won't necessarily be as effective as a class who has expertise (double proficiency), but you can still be proficient. And even if you're not, with a decent Dex you can still try :)

While succeeding is fun, not succeeding can always open up new story paths.

Spellcasting can boost your abilities as well

In addition to your stats/skills, there is still the option to magically enhance your ability in those areas, either by providing bonuses to your own skills or by utilizing other spell effects to perform those tasks and solve problems. For example, the spell Pass without Trace gives you and nearby allies a +10 bonus to stealth checks, and the spell Passwall lets you create a tunnel that can bypass most physical barriers.

Be aware of consequences

Whether or not you are an expert at thief-type skills, you should always remember that there are consequences to actions. Think about when/where/who during your decision process on performing these skills. If you get caught, you should generally expect a reaction from the game world.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I added a couple of examples of useful spells that a caster might take advantage of to thieving ends. \$\endgroup\$ – Carcer May 10 '19 at 15:05

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