Watch: Pea-brained thief tries to steal a gumball machine - it does not go smoothly

A Californian animal shelter has released surveillance images showing a man struggling to steal a gumball machine from their premises, in hopes of getting a lead on the suspect.

The video from Wednesday night (Thursday NZT) shows the suspect trying to slide the machine through a small door for dogs at the Front Street Animal Shelter in Sacramento - and having a really hard time doing so.

The shelter wrote on Facebook "suspect has poor spatial reasoning, doesn't realise machine is larger than window opening."

The man eventually takes the gumball machine, which is now partly destroyed, outside and throws it over a barbed wire fence.

"You almost feel bad for him," they wrote, "until you remember that he just stole from an animal shelter."

The shelter also pointed out that there was a donation box filled with money sitting right across from where the gumball machine stood, which the man never touched.