A few hours into skyrim and i'm walking around some random town. three hired thugs come up to me and say they want a chat. they then pull out their weapons and start wailing on me. I fight them off and find a bounty note on the leader's body.
I didn't think much of it at the time, but late on I went back to a town i'd visited earlier on in my travels. the guard stops me at the gate, identifies me as a thief and tells me to pay a 5 gold fine.
This got me thinking. Rather than put the word out that I'd stolen something and I was wanted by this town, they hired three guys to track me across mountains and a lake over a matter of 5 gold pieces.
Just like real life Skyrim has debt collection agencies who will completely overreact when given a debt to chase up.