Review: Stop Thief (2017)

I’m not silent about my love of the 1979 Parker Brothers deduction game Stop Thief. The game mechanics where clearly stuck in the 70’s which can be frustrating when compared to some more modern board games. The cornerstone of Stop Thief was the “Crime Scanner” which gave players clues as to the location of the hidden criminal that everyone was chasing. This was ahead of its time in 1979 and merged electronics with tabletop gaming.

When Restoration Games took on rebuilding Stop Thief from the ground up, I was beyond excited that this game was getting new life. We’ve played the new game a number of times now and can say that Restoration Games has done an incredible job with this remake.

Private Eyes

Up to 4 players take on the roles of detectives in pursuit of thieves with very sticky fingers. The game board includes four businesses, city streets and subway locations in the corners and center of the board for quick travel. Using audio clues, players track down the invisible criminal that moves between the numbered spots on the board.

Before you begin you’ll need to download the free app that replaces the “Crime Scanner” from the original game. The app will give players clues, be used for secret tips and is the place you make an arrest when you know where the criminal is located.

Crime Scanner app

At the beginning of your turn, you’ll hit the clue button and get an audio clue as to where the criminal is on the board. Each turn brings another clue as you hone into the numbered location of the thief. This hidden movement mechanic is something that I love. Players have to stay engaged in the game, no one is taking a turn in isolation. Players that pay attention and follow the clues will find the criminal first.

Using the audio clues and figuring out the pattern really makes you feel like you’re accomplishing something in the game. Players don’t accidently find the criminal but sometimes a player may find themselves at the right place at the right time. Because of the random nature of the starting location of a criminal, we’ve had a couple times where 3 of the 4 players were across the board and one lucky player was sitting in the building when a new criminal committed a crime.

Trash the Dice

Probably the biggest change in Stop Thief that sets it apart from its 1979 counterpart is the elimination of the dice. Previously, players moved by rolling dice which was so frustrating when you only rolled a 2, 3 or 4. Even if you knew where the thief was, those dice determined how fast you could get to that location. This was brutal when the dice didn’t go your way.

Stop Thief player cards

Stop Thief now uses a deck of 6 cards that correspond to a player’s character. It makes so much sense because each detective now has a little perk that can be used in the game. Tad Magnum has two cards that allow him to move 12 spaces while Drake Benedict has the advantage of moving another player 4 spaces when he plays either the 7 or 8 card.

Once a card is used, it’s discarded in front of the player. They have to play a specific card to pick up these discarded movement cards. Honestly, this mechanic works a lot better than I expected! In one game, 2 of us knew exactly where the criminal was. I used my refresh card to pick up the discarded movement cards and took off after the criminal. The other player used all their cards and waited till the last card to refresh their hand. Having more card options before my opponent really paid off when I closed in on the thief.

When you know the location of the thief, the player must move their character on or adjacent to that space and use the app to plug in the coordinates. A correct set of coordinates will let you know that you’ve arrested the criminal. Each criminal is worth a specific value and some have special rules when they are caught. Players are trying to collect a specific dollar amount to win the game.

Passion for the Game

Restoration Games didn’t remake Stop Thief because it was a huge game that had millions of followers. In reality, I’ve only run into a handful of people who have ever played this game. You can tell that the team at Restoration Games really does care about giving games new life. Rob Daviau has done a great job of keeping what works from the original and changing the outdated mechanics that held the original game back.

Dr. Doyle's Electronics

The design of the board is beautiful and has plenty of little easter eggs that reference the roots of the original game. I love that Robert Doyle, the creator of the original game, was part of this remake. I can tell that there was a passion to remake Stop Thief the right way.

If you’re not a fan of hidden movement games or you can’t stay focused on something for more than a couple minutes, this game isn’t for you. The game requires you to focus on the clues, track down the elusive criminals and feel like a boss when you get the job done.

The app will be expanding as the game gets into the market. At the time of writing this, there are still 3 modes that are coming soon that include a Solo Game Mode, One vs. Many Mode and a Cooperative Mode. I’m really excited to have new ways to play as we bring this out with our friends and family.

I think Restoration Games has done a fantastic job with the remake of Stop Thief. It has all the hooks of a family-friendly game and I know it will be coming to the table for years to come. This remake of Stop Thief makes me even more passionate about sharing this game with the people around me. Now, back to catching that thief!

Look for Stop Thief at your local game store or order a copy on Amazon today.

Highs

  • Top notch components and beautiful artwork
  • Classic game without outdated mechanics
  • New game app is a great addition

Lows

  • Game requires all your attention even on others turns