Man had toddler climb into arcade game to steal prizes at N.H. mall
Police are on the lookout for a man who turned his toddler into a tiny thief, using the child to steal from a mall arcade game in Salem, New Hampshire.
The man had the little girl climb into the KeyMaster game last week through the area where prizes are dispensed, video captured by witnesses show. The toddler then grabbed prizes from inside and passed them to the man on the outside.
Bystanders witnessed the theft at the Mall at Rockingham Park around 6 p.m. on Friday, police said. Authorities released video of the incident on Monday.
Hannah Forese, who works at a Red Robin restaurant near the game in the mall, reported the incident to security after customers mentioned what was going on, the Union Leader reports.
“Two people came in and I heard them say, ‘That’s so unsafe.’ So I went outside and all I saw was the toddler’s head peeping out of the front of the machine,” Forese said, according to the newspaper.
Once the girl had stolen some prizes, the man, the girl and another child — a boy around 5 to 7 years old — left the area, police said.
Police described the thief as a man between 20 and 30 years old, who was sporting a blue T-shirt, black shorts and a Sig Sauer baseball hat. Anyone who recognizes the man is asked to reach out to Salem police by phone or online.
For most of the video, which runs more than a minute, the toddler is entirely inside the large arcade game. The older child on the outside crouches next to the man as the man reaches into the prize slot — which is roughly the size of a dog door — to pull out the items the toddler has retrieved.
But as the man is pulling the boxed prizes out, there’s little indication a toddler is in the bowels of the machine passing the goods to him.
“Yes, it worked!” the boy on the outside exclaims as he picks up the first item the man brings out of the prize slot, video shows.
After a second prize is pulled out, it becomes clear that something is moving inside the game — and then the video catches the first few glimpses of the little girl in the game.
“Turn around,” the man advises the girl and he twirls his finger. “Sit up.”
The man continues coaching the little girl on how to climb out of the game.
“Turn around. Stick your butt on the floor,” the man tells her. “Put your back against this.”
Suddenly a head appears through the prize slot.
The girl squeals as she pushes herself out of the game and then stands up, video shows.
The video is blurred by police to protect the children’s identities.
Forese watched as the three left with their prizes, the Union Leader reports.
“There was a Nintendo Switch and a Gameboy DS,” Forese said, according to the newspaper. “They grabbed multiple prizes, but those were the two I saw.”
The police department posted the video on Facebook, where it has been viewed more than 30,000 times.