$400k Worth Of Stolen Playdate Handhelds Have Been Found In The Weirdest Place

Images of boxes of playdates dumped on a street

As I sit here writing this article, the rain lashing against my windows, I feel a bit like Sherlock Holmes might have done while trying to piece together the mysteries in his latest case. Unlike Sherlock, however, the mystery of the stolen Playdates is very real and not a figment of Arthur Conan Doyle’s imagination, and it’s taken a strange turn of events.

Earlier this year, I reported on some crates of stolen Playdate handhelds going missing when someone signed to say that they had been delivered by FedEx. That someone wasn’t one of the Playdate team, and they couldn’t work out who the mystery signatory was.

Four pallets had initially gone missing, with two being discovered at a building site close to the factory where they had been picked up by FedEx. Things got even murkier when some of the missing devices started being registered online, however. But we weren’t just talking about a couple of devices going missing here; $400k is a heck of a lot of money.

So imagine the scene; you’re a restaurant owner expecting a delivery of meat, vegetables, eggs, and other ingredients to make your dishes, and instead, you come outside to find boxes upon boxes of small yellow handhelds with a crank sticking out of them. That’s right, the Playdates have been found outside a random restaurant, and now they’re having a well-earned cup of tea while trying to explain their ordeal to the police, assumedly in a beautiful comic strip that plays when the cranks are turned…

The Case Is Closed, But I Still Have Questions

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One of two things has happened here (cue tense music while I walk around stroking my moustache like Poirot). Either a FedEx driver has completely misread the situation and delivered the initial two pallets by mistake before offloading the other boxes to another location to try and hide their mistake and causing this whole debacle in the first place, or someone who stole the Playdates realised that selling on such a unique handheld would be incredibly tough with all of the media attention, so they’ve given up sitting on the boxes and just dumped them somewhere under the cover of darkness to get rid of them.

I am inclined to go for the second option here. The Playdate isn’t like a Nintendo Switch; it’s quirky and different, and while a stolen shipment of Switches might be easier to distribute, the Playdate is still one of those consoles where people go ‘ah, what’s that?’. It arouses interest, and after the media attention in the gaming world surrounding the theft, getting rid of them must have been pretty hard.

The Playdate team has spoken on Twitter, saying that ‘they were closing in’ on the suspects after ‘lots of time and detective work’. Other comments like ‘check the streets of North Las Vegas’ and the comment above alluding to the fact that some Playdates had been activated obviously helped to track down the culprit and caused them to panic when the Panic lawyers started closing in.

I’ll report more on this when the Playdate team gives us more information, but I’m just happy that the stolen Playdates have been found and can finally head off to nice homes to be played on by avid gamers. Who knows, we could see more Playdate engagement messages happening now too!

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