A man in Keelung (基隆) has been caught attempting to break into claw machines to steal the money inside.

A man, surnamed Tseng (曾), was apprehended while attempting to use a grinder to cut open the locks of claw machines in northern Taiwan. He is alleged to have robbed at least 6 stores and to have stolen tens of thousands of New Taiwanese Dollars.

Claw machines are ubiquitous in Taiwan. It is difficult to travel any distance without seeing them in most urban areas. Their prizes vary greatly from plush toys and instant noodles, to designer bags (likely knock-offs) and even sex toys. Most require only NT$10 (US$0.36) to play.

Many of these machines are reportedly illegal. Selling good that are prohibited in claw machines like e-cigarettes or pharmaceuticals or operating in areas where they are not supposed to be, for instance in close proximity to schools. In spite of this they seem to keep growing and attracting customers hoping to get a bargain on a pair of Jordan slippers. They are also often not monitored by anyone or anything other than perhaps a CCTV camera and thus make for a thief’s paradise.

Tseng took advantage of this and allegedly would set out in the middle of the night to get his loot. He would park far away, go in on foot and disguise himself to avoid identification.

After robbing numerous stores, police set up a task force to catch the claw machine bandit. Eventually they did catch Tseng in the act. It appears that no one can escape the long, mechanical claw of justice.