Suspects targeting skill machines are stealing cash in several Pa. counties

You've probably noticed "skill machines" pop-up in local gas stations, convenience stores, or bars in recent years. Now, local police are warning that criminals are breaking into them—and the businesses they are inside—to make a quick buck.

West Whiteland Township police say three people broke the door of the Exton Smoke Shop on North Pottstown Pike, around 5:45 a.m. on Thursday morning, and immediately targeted its skill machines once they made entry into the store. 

Police say the suspects were able to successfully kick one of the machines open to take cash.

"There’s a lot of valuable stuff in there, things they could’ve taken, and it all went untouched," says Detective Scott Pezick with the West Whiteland Township Police Department.

On Monday, customers were surprised to see the store's boarded up door. 

"I noticed it as soon as we pulled up in the car, I was like, ‘What happened to the door?’" said Alex Spies.


Investigators now believe this same group could be behind other recent burglaries targeting skill machines in Chester County and other neighboring counties.

Phoenixville Police say an individual kicked open three skill machines at the 7-Eleven at 200 Nutt Road on September 30th, taking approximately $6,000 in cash. They had a second incident on October 21st, at the 7-Eleven at 88 Nutt Road, in which an individual kicked open three skill machines and took approximately $5,000 in cash. They don’t believe the incidents involved the same person.

In Warrington, on November 2nd, police say a group, also involving three people, ransacked the skill machines at the Quick Puff near Easton and Bristol roads just before 3:30 a.m.

"Based on how they are operating, based on how there’s three, they are wearing the same clothing each time, we can kind of link them all together," said Detective Pezick.

In the midst of all the crime involving them, skill machines have remained a controversial topic in Pennsylvania. A recent analysis from the Pennsylvania Lottery estimated a loss of $650 million in state lottery scratch sales since 2017, all while the number of machines statewide has grown. 

"It's open market, we don't even know how much money was in there, they're just causing more problems," said Detective Pezick.