The song is based on a harmonic stasis. It features the extensive use of E minorchord. 118 out of 138 measures of the song are based on the same E minor chord, while the rest are F minor chords. Al Jourgensen sings only the G note, while the song "shifts gears rhythmically" through its sections and quadruples its tempo.
Tom Moon, the author of 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die, wrote, "At the two minute mark of "Thieves" and several times later in the song, Ministry's pulse is bolstered by what sounds like a whirring pneumatic drill. It's not a gimmick—it almost functions as a solo guitar, adding punctuation."
American nu metal band Limp Bizkit released its cover version of "Thieves" as a single via Twitter on November 1, 2013 for free download. Limp Bizkit's version is taken from the band's seventh studio album Stampede of the Disco Elephants. Limp Bizkit performed it throughout many of the band's live sets since 1997, but the band did not release a studio version until 2013. Limp Bizkit's version does not include the samples that are on Ministry's version.
Axl Rosenberg of MetalSucks criticized the cover, stating that the band "butchered the song."