• magisterrex Retro Games

    I've been gaming since the days of Pong and still own a working Atari 2600. I tend to ramble on about retro games, whether they be board games, video games or PC games. Sometimes I digress. Decades after earning it, I'm finally putting the skills I learned while completing my history degree from the University of Victoria to good use. Or so I think. If you're into classic old school gaming, this blog is for you!

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What’s In That Game Box – Stop Thief (1979)

Ever scoured the Internet looking for what exactly you were missing from the old board game you pulled from your closet, only to find no succor in your time of need?  Well, stop that fruitless searching through endless google results, as this week we look at Parker Brothers’ Stop Thief, the classic 1979 Electronic Game of Cops and Robbers.


Box art for the 1979 game, Stop Thief


A more indepth discussion the various releases of this game through the years, as well as its gameplay, can by found in a previous blog entry, titled, The Best Classic Board Games – Stop Thief! What’s In That Game Box? deals specifically with the game’s contents, which are:

The game box (featuring a multi-colored Stop Thief logo, a prominent image of a hand holding the Electronic Crime Scanner, and a few cartoon detectives and criminals, all on a dull yellow/peach background)

The game board (featuring four multi-square building locations – Antiques, Bank, Furs, and Jewelry – five subway locations, the Newsstand location, and the 127-squared intersecting game path)

Four plastic Detective player tokens (blue, green, red, and yellow)

Two 6-sided dice

The Electronic Crime Scanner device (with a multicolored numeric keypad and requiring a “9-volt” battery to operate)

A supply of Reward Money (in green-colored $50; blue-colored $100; and pink-colored $500 denominations)

8 Acme Detective Agency Licenses:

Carrie Badger (No. W02-30-03)
Harley Hand (No. M01-03-30)
Kent Ketchum (No. M01-04-40)
Lester Lose O’ (No. M01-01-10)
Mavis Marvel (No. W02-10-01)
Nanny Harrow (No. W02-20-02)
Rosa Subrose (No. W02-40-04)
Sheerluck Holmes (No. M01-02-20)

10 WANTED poster cards, consisting of:

Armand Slinger – Arm Robber (REWARD: $900)
Bunny & Clod – Petty Thieves (REWARD: $1,000)
Emil “The Cat” Donovan – Cat Burglar (REWARD: $800)
Felicia Field – Sneak(er) Thief (REWARD: $900)
Hans Offe – Pickpocket (REWARD: $900)
John Doe – Buck Passer (REWARD: $800)
Luke Warm – Auto Thief, etc. (REWARD: $1,000)
Ruby Diamond – Jewel Thief (REWARD: $800)
Saul Teen – Safecracker (REWARD: $1,000)
The Brain – ????? (REWARD: $1,000)

32 STOP THIEF! SLEUTH cards, consisting of:

BACK TO ACME DETECTIVE AGENCY (You or Another Detective) [x2]
BUY A TIP FOR $50 [x4]
BUY A TIP FOR $100 [x2]

The game rules booklet


Box contents of the 1979 game, Stop Thief


Aside from the inner plastic tray that holds the loose game parts and the cardboard space filler, that’s it! NOTE: The box art shown in this blog entry is from the Canadian version.  The American version had a black background, and only English wording.  All the contents of both versions are the same, with the exception of the Canadian version being in both English and French.

Have fun finding those pesky criminals!


All 10 WANTED posters for Stop Thief (1979)



All 8 Detective Licenses for Stop Thief (1979)



The Best Classic Board Games – Stop Thief!

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!

Stop Thief 1979 Board Game

The box cover for Stop Thief!, Parker Brothers 1979.

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.

Stop Thief 1979 Parker Brothers Game

The complete contents of Stop Thief, Parker Brothers 1979 Game

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.