Nintendo Switch thieves fired after launch units appear online
Employees of US distributor under investigation for stealing forthcoming Nintendo console
Nintendo has confirmed that a number of Switch units have been stolen and, in one case, sold on to a seemingly unsuspecting consumers.
Reports that the console was in the wild emerged last week when an unboxing video appeared on YouTube, while another video showed the Switch's set-up menu and user interface. The latter was uploaded by NeoGAF user Hiphoptherobot, who claimed to have been sent the console early by an unspecified retailer.
However, this has proven to be false as Nintendo revealed the unit - and an unspecified number of its fellows - were stolen from a distribution partner and sold illegally.
"Earlier this week, individuals claimed to prematurely purchase a small number of Nintendo Switch systems from an unspecified retailer," a spokesperson told IGN. "Nintendo has determined these units were stolen in an isolated incident by employees of a US distributor, with one system being illegally resold.
"The individuals involved have been identified, terminated from their place of employment and are under investigation by local law enforcement authorities on criminal charges."
Posting on NeoGAF, Hiphoptherobot confirmed that the console has been returned to Nintendo and that they are "personally not in any trouble", VG247 reports.
Nintendo Switch does not launch until March 3rd, when it will be available globally. Opinion is divided on how well the console-handheld hybrid will sell due to its weak launch line-up, but reports suggest more than 80% of its launch shipment in Japan has already been accounted for by pre-orders.
Stolen games hardware is, sadly, not unheard of. Sony's UK arm faced similar issues last summer when consumers were able to track down and buy the PS4 Slim before it had even been announced.