A theft has occurred! Look for clues and use them to identify the thief and recover the stolen goods. In this app, users play the part of the police officer (who can be customized to one of three different skin tones, 67 hairstyles and 17 facial hair styles, plus a wide variety of uniforms, earned by repeat playing). When you begin the app, a victim of a theft knocks on the door, then tells the officer what has been stolen (usually while sobbing). The spoken language is nonsensical (reminiscent of the adults who speak in Charlie Brown cartoons), but the report is accompanied by a speech bubble with an animation of a silhouetted thief tiptoeing in to steal the missing object (a ring, a phone, a teddy bear, whatever). Next, officer and victim return to the scene of the crime and search the room for 3-5 clues. These are often footprints, a comb with hairs in it (apparently these are all very grooming-conscious thieves), or an object they left behind like a concert ticket. Once all clues have been located, they return to the police station and compare the clues to a line-up of suspects. Once the user chooses a suspect (whether or not the clues match), the officer can go to their home and search for the stolen object. The object will only be found at the suspect’s house if they match the clues, but the search can often make quite a mess (luckily there’s a “broom” button that cleans everything up immediately). If they stolen object is found, there follows a car chase scene where the user must evade puddles and banana peels in order to catch the perpetrator (you can skip the car chase if you prefer). The stolen object is returned to its rightful owner at the end, no matter the result of the car chase. There are a variety of skin tones and ages represented in both the victims and suspects.
Note to parents: I have mixed feelings about reviewing this app because, while it does have great deductive reasoning skills and a nice gameplay design, it may not reflect every child’s experiences with and relationship to their local police and the car chase or the chaotic invasion of privacy while searching for clues might be upsetting for some children. Also, the accessories occasionally include feathers in a headband and a bun secured with chopsticks which often represent racial stereotypes. Consider using this app as a tool to start a conversation about these complicated issues with your child.