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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Break in at comic store results in 1,600 dollar loss

Photo by Sara Ruiz
Photo by Sara Ruiz
Photo by Sara Ruiz

By Julia Echikson

The Grinnell police responded to an open door complaint at the downtown store Multiverse Comics and Games on Aug. 28. Thieves had forced open the front door by kicking it in and shattering the door frame. Upon closer inspection inside, the robbers had only stolen more than 300 dollars of cash and 1,300 dollars worth of cards from the game Magic: The Gathering.

Magic: The Gathering is a “fantasy based game,” said the store co-owner Stephen Jacobs. “You cast spells, and there are creatures that you use to attack your opponent. The object of the game is get your opponent’s life total, which starts at 20, down to zero.” 

A player must build a deck of 60 cards to participate. As it is a “collectible card game,” cards can only be obtained through buying random assortments or trading them. Players are immersed in a culture of exchanging and re-selling cards.

Despite being founded more than 20 years ago in 1993, the game is still thriving. As of last year, it boasts an estimated 20 million players, was translated into 11 different languages and has a professional tour. Some cards have become collectible items worth as much as 6,000 dollars.

The perpetrators were only after Magic: The Gathering. Other valuable items in the store weren’t touched. “In the ways of electronics, there’s a touch screen television that’s easily worth 300 bucks,” Jacobs said.

Unlike the stolen electronics items, stolen Magic cards are easily sold in legitimate markets.

“A lot of the game shops will buy a single card from customers and give them store credit or just give them cash. Once the cards get into somebody else’s collection, there’s really no way to know if they are somebody else’s,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs doesn’t have faith that police department will solve his case.

“It’s not anything against the police department,” he said. “Unless you catch them in the act or catch them trying to sell it afterwards, it’s almost impossible to get [the perpetrator].”

Sergeant Chris Wray of the Grinnell Police Department is heading the investigation and acknowledges that his team has no suspects. “[We are] not close to making [an arrest],” Wray said.  But he is not giving up.

“With the video surveillance … we hope we will be able to at least identify a suspect or suspects,” Wray said.

Jacobs has his own theory. He believes that the thief was a customer but not a regular.

“They knew where everything was at, and they targeted the Magic cards specifically. It feels like somebody who’s been in the store to at least see where the things are,” Jacobs said.

Wray is in agreement with Jacobs regarding the identity of the perpetrator.

“[They] knew [Jacobs] had these specialized gaming cards. He also specializes in the something that is not really common here in Grinnell,” Wray said.

The community around the game is a close knit one.

“A lot of guys from the community have come together to help us out, even people we don’t know. Some of the regular guys offered us money,” Jacobs said.

Wizards of the Coast, the company that produces the game, has pitched in by sending promo cards to the store.

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