I actually like the fact that sometimes the tracks are hard to find – Just like in real life, sometimes it’s really hard to track the people/wolves you are looking for down.
And you know what you’re getting into when you accept the contract, so it’s up to you to evaluate the risks and benefits.
Yeah, but, in real life, you could use/develop some legitimate tracking skills to hunt them down, which might make it an enjoyable experience in itself. All you can do in the game when there are no visible footprints is either (a) stay still just outside the settlement until the direwolves appear and say “I say, we’re over here; would you mind awfully having a fearsome fight with us this fine day?”, or (b) head off in the general direction specified for the thieves’ location and hope you bump into them (or go to the top of a nearby mountain and hope you’ll be able to see them).
There’s not much risk/reward calculation about it. Usually the pay is relatively poor, but you want to take it because of the prospect of an enjoyable battle yielding plentiful loot. The occasions on which you actually fail to find the thieves are very few; it’s just that there’s often a long, tedious, monotonous, unrewarding, not very challenging and not very skill-based process to endure before you come upon them.
You don’t think: “will taking on this contract break the company”. You think: “we’re almost certainly going to win a battle and get some decent loot, but we’re probably going to have to endure an irritating waste of time first”.