Stop Thief from Parker Brothers (1979)

Company: Parker Brothers | Release date: 1979 | Ages: 10+ | # of players: 2 to 4 | Where to purchase: eBay

“A crime is being committed…but where?”

Released in 1979, Stop Thief was a cops-and-robbers-themed board game that used an electronic crime scanner to help players track down invisible thieves, make arrests, and collect the reward money.


The object of the game was to be the first player to earn $2,500 by locating the criminals as they made their way around the board in hopes of eluding capture.

Players started with $300 in cash and 3 sleuth cards. The sleuth cards offered perks, such as free tips (the exact location of a thief) and free moves on the board, but they also contained setbacks, such as losing a turn. The cash was used to buy tips and pay fines for making false arrests.

The game board was divided into four buildings (jewellery, furs, antiques, and bank), rows of streets, and a series of subway stops.

The first of the thief “wanted” posters was turned face-up. Each poster contained an image of the thief, their name, crime, and an award value. Only one thief at a time was on the loose.

The highest roll started the game. Each turn began with the player pressing the C (clue) button then rolling and moving their detective pawn towards the suspected location of the thief.

The handheld electronic crime scanner had 15 marked buttons: on, off, numbers 0 through 9, a C (clue), a T (tip), and an A (arrest). The scanner was central to gameplay because it provided clues about the thief’s activities and whereabouts. The scanner used sounds and a digital display to let players know when a thief moved through a building, broke a window, opened a door, ran into the street, or used the subway. Players also used the scanner for clues, tips on the thief’s location, and to make arrests.

Once one thief was caught, another of the “wanted” cards was turned over to reveal the latest criminal target. The game continued in this manner until a player was the first to earn $2,500, thereby winning the game.


A complete game included the game board,  battery-operated electronic crime scanner (battery not included), 4 detective pawns (blue, yellow, red, and green), 8 detective licenses, 32 sleuth cards, 10 “wanted” posters (cards), paper money, and 2 dice. An instruction booklet was also included.

Watch a classic commercial for Stop Thief on the Toy Tales YouTube channel.

Note: If you buy something using the eBay link in this story, we may earn a small commission.