As I was growing up, even though I was totally hooked on video games, I found that I had a true affection for board games. Unfortunately I found that I would have to play them mostly by myself, as all of my neighbor friends were either total vidiots who would only play Atari 2600 games, or else they wanted to play pickup games of whiffle ball and Nerf tag football.
Then Parker Brothers put out what I think is probably my second most beloved board game ever (my first being Dark Tower), which was Stop Thief! All I had to do was show this to my friends and a game would
Stop Thief! Was the brainchild of creator Robert Doyle for Parker Brothers. It was released in 1979 and was the third most asked for Christmas present for that year according to Toy and Hobby. Here is what the box looked like for the game:
The top flap opened up to reveal this shot, which highlights the electronic younger brother of the Colecovision joystick, minus the joystick knob.
Like all great board games, Stop Thief was easy to understand and hard to master. The board was laid out like a small city. Each square space on the board represented either a space in a building or else a space on the street in front of the building. The center piece of this game was the large electronic gadget that you see here in the box. This electronic wonder played a sound at the beginning of each players turn. You might hear the thief walking, or you might hear the sound of glass breaking, or even hear the thief stealing something. You had to use your deductive skills to be able to piece multiple sounds together in order to figure out where the thief was, then try to get your player there as quickly as possible. If no player was able to stop the thief before he stole 3 items, then the thief would actually get away and no player would win!
The average game with two players would normally take about 30 minutes to play, but a lucky player may see the thief start out close to them and could possibly win much sooner. A wrong guess at the location of the thief would cost the player money, and catching the thief would win the player money.
Here is a shot of the box contents:
The Electronic Crime Scanner was indeed brilliant for its time. It had a simply L.E.D. screen similar to the old L.E.D. football games that were popular a few years before this game came out. It would normally show lines moving across the screen or even show squiggles if the thief broke glass in a building.
On the whole, Stop Thief was a great game to play with friends. There was very little luck involved and your deductive skills really were the things that would help you win the most. The thief in the game was no slouch. They would often double back on themselves to throw you off. They would break glass and then not go out the window which would throw you off as well.
Combining parts of Clue and the electronic scanner was simply brilliant, and I am not sure why there has never been an electronic version of Clue yet?
Stop Thief can still be picked up today on Ebay for a reasonable price, and you would be hard pressed to find a more fun game to play with your family. Now where is that blasted thief?