3 men accused of stealing claw machine from Walmart

Men pretended to be taking machine for maintenance, deputies say

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – Ever felt like you spent more money than you should trying to win a claw machine prize?

Well, three men in St. Johns County found a way to beat the system -- albeit an extreme (and illegal) one.

They decided to just take off with the whole machine.

Deputies said the three men were captured on surveillance video March 12 walking into a Walmart on U.S. 1 in St. Johns County.

They told the assistant manager that they were picking up a broken claw machine and then loaded the machine into an older, white Ford F-150, which was also captured on camera, deputies said.

The trouble is, the men don't work for the company that actually maintains the machine, deputies said.

And it's not the first time they've swiped one, according to the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office. Deputies said the men took another similar machine from a Walmart in Gainesville.

"So, you've got yourself a serial claw machine taker," said Brian Armstrong, who was shopping at the Walmart. "I'm surprised they haven't been caught."

Chuck Mulligan with the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office explained what could be a motivating factor for the thieves.

"Anything like this can be resold, especially to an unsuspecting individual," he said.

According to Mulligan, it's hard to determine exactly where the men are from, but they probably didn't go far.

"The likelihood though that they would travel a great distance with this in the back of the truck is not as likely as someone who has a place to take it, get it out of inclement weather, etc., rather quickly."

A man who services the machines believes they had a combined $2,000 inside.

Anyone who can help identify the men or who has seen the truck is asked to contact Deputy A. Toubaili at atoubaili@sjso.org.

About the Authors:

A Jacksonville native and proud University of North Florida alum, Francine Frazier has been with News4Jax since 2014 after spending nine years at The Florida Times-Union.

Florida-born multi-media journalist pays special attention to issues in St. Johns County.