Another one of my all-time favorite board games is Stop Thief!, produced by Parker Brothers in 1979. This was one of the first electronic board games: players used a handheld device called the Electronic Crime Scanner to hear clues, like the sound of the thief walking across the floor, running down the street, breaking a window, or opening a door. Players move little private detective tokens around the game board, using the Electronic Crime Scanner to check out buildings and search for the thief. But every turn the thief moves, too, so you have to keep up!
It’s a game of deductive reasoning, meaning random guesses won’t help you. The Electronic Crime Scanner can replay the clues to aid you in your quest to locate the thief. Once you think you know where he is, you call the police, and hope to hear the sounds of the thief being taken away to jail. But if you’re mistaken, you’ll hear the sound of the thief escaping, and a big raspberry for your trouble. That sound still makes me cringe as it represents the same thing today as it did over 20 years ago: the utter failure of my detective skills. And I still smile when I hear the thief being taken away by the boys in blue, all courtesy of the Electronic Crime Scanner.
The game play is fairly straight-forward: there are 19 possible locations (marked in red on the game board) that the thief may have committed the crime. Detectives chase down the thief as quickly as possible, trying to arrest the thief first. There are 10 WANTED cards for a total of ten thieves to be hunted down, and the first player to earn $2,500 in Reward Money wins the game. Along the way players draw STOP THIEF SLEUTH cards which can send them to different locations on the game board, earn free turns, lose turns, or even get extra clues. Between the cards and the dice rolls, there is enough random elements to make games fresh each time they are played.
A quick note on the box colors in the images you see above and those you see in the original TV spot below: Stop Thief was sold in Canada and the United States with different box designs. The Canadian version of the game had to be in both English and French, so the box had to be altered to show this (and there are extra French-only game cards in addition to the English once, also). The American version was only in English. Though they have different box covers, they are otherwise the same game with the same game play.
Stop Thief! is yet another classic board game. It may be older, but it still has what it takes to be hilarious family fun, and is recommended for 2 to 4 players ages 10 and up.