It feels like they've balanced around the fact that something is an option, rather than things being optional. They've made the prices even higher than EA, dropped the sell price of things like paintings by 1/5th, so it feels as though they've balanced around stealing.
Same goes for buying items - they've balanced around you having barter. Heck, the same two items in two different vendors are very likely to be sold for different prices depending on where you are. If you buy a book from a vendor in Fort Joy vs one in the act 1 Encampment, the Encampment book will cost more, as if accounting for the fact you'll have more bartering by then.