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Thief has hit more than 40 arcade games throughout state, police say

TAYLORSVILLE — Unified police believe the same man has broken into more than 40 arcade games and rides in grocery stores across Utah and surrounding states.

Since Aug. 11, someone has broken into the machines at grocery stores in West Jordan, South Jordan, West Valley City, Sandy, Centerville, Price, Orem, American Fork, Harrisville, Riverdale, Idaho Falls, Wendover, Evanston and more, said Unified Police Lt. Lex Bell. Most recently, stores in Cedar City and St. George were hit over the weekend.

The thief targets games in front of the stores that typically cost a quarter, such as the claw arcade game or a children's ride, Bell said. The brazen thief breaks into the games using a crowbar and screwdriver, typically while others are around him, he said.

Because the arcade games are contracted out, store employees don't know who is assigned to repair them or perform maintenance on them, so the thief typically steals money the machines out in the open and no one questions him.

The man has stolen between $13 to up to $350 from each incident, Bell said. The total revenue loss plus damage to the machines was estimated to be $33,000 as of Monday. Some store surveillance cameras have captured images of the man. Other witnesses have told investigators that another person has been seen waiting in a car outside the stores.

Bell said detectives believed the thief is most likely a Utah resident. Anyone with information can call Unified police at 801-743-7000.

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam