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I am having this trouble with putting steal in my game. Because if you beat the enemy then what was the point of stealing from him during the fight? For example if you beat me unconscioius, why not just take my wallet then instead of during the struggle? (The point being it makes no difference when you take it, as I have only 1 wallet. You cannot steal a wallet then also acquire a wallet as end of battle loot to end up with more wallets than physically exist, ergo stealing is useless)

Technically anything you steal, should be taken from the battle loot you would have gotten, but aside from this being really complicated to implement, it makes stealing completely pointless since you were going to get the item anyway.

I had an idea for an RPG, where every enemy runs instead of dies, and that's why stealing would be essential since it's the only way to get stuff. (And there would be no way of leveling, so getting stuff was even more important) Another version of the same idea is that enemies would explode when defeated, resulting in all their stuff carried getting destroyed. (And at least this way you get exp points) But that seems like an odd joke to carry through an entire game.

The last idea is that the stealer is like a magician who pulls things out of the enemy that they didn't know they had. (Such as pulling quarters from behind the ear) This could also be seen as a draw system from FF8 but with the magical energy drawn is instead used to create an item on the fly.

Actually I just thought of another method while writing this. Its the inverse of the running method mentioned above. Rather than the enemy running, you only keep the stolen goods if YOU run. I guess the way that would work, is ,you'd steal something but not see what it is until the battle ends.

Another method is to have each individual enemy immediately run when stolen from, in order to explain why they don't drop loot. But aa stated above, it's items you get one way or another, in effect all this does is make steal into an insta-death attack.
"It's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly...timey wimey...stuff."
Having enemies run away if you steal things from them introduces an interesting balance mechanic where you get an item which may or may not be useful but you lose out on the xp/money you would have gotten otherwise.

Honestly I don't think having a "realistic" stealing system is worth the effort as this kind of thing is a staple of a lot of RPGs and people just kind of take it for granted that it works the way it does. Generally speaking I think the model most people use is having stealable items that you can't get from the enemy after battle. Sure, your case of "If I defeated them I'd be taking the item anyay" comes in here, but I guess it's a case where gameplay trumps realism for the sake of fun.
How about you re-flavor steal into something else where you need the enemy alive to get what you want? Examples:

-Gathering Soul Essence from enemies which can be either used for something or crafted (healing, power spells, teach abilities), which won't work on dead bodies.

-A Megaman Battle Network-esque setting where the characters are data. You'd use a hack to extract files from them before they're deleted (killed).

-Your thief is a psion who can steal information from the opponent's mind and might even be able to manifest these thoughts into physical objects. If you kill the enemy, he can't think anymore and therefore has nothing to steal.

So basically, you just achieved more realism with less realism. Cool, eh?
You're magical to me.
Wow, those are some awesome ideas, Lightning Lord! :DDDD Very cool!
Use rips. Graphical change from your character to a rip can work. As you progress through the game, stealing more and more, your surrounding changes itself into rips too. A climax comes when your hero can't stand this anymore a gets mad.
The Draw System from Final Fantasy 8 would be a good example of "stealing" something that you can't take from the enemy once it's dead. If you want a realistic steal command then something like that would be good inspiration; several of LightningLord's ideas strike a similar chord.
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