Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Theft in the Magic Community

Hello all. Today I'm bringing you something a little different, unrelated to alters. Recently you may have heard about the great number of thefts that occurred at GP Baltimore. Among them was the cube and collection of SCG writer, cube enthusiast, and friend Justin Parnell. Justin has since written this message to those who stole his bag and to any who try and take advantage of our great community. Of course I agreed to host Justin's words. The rate of theft is getting worse and worse at these large events, especially as the popularity and value of Magic continues to rise. Certainly we need to dedicate greater effort watching out for ourselves and those around us.


Thanks in advance for your maturity and understanding in discussing this heated issue.
Eric Klug


To thieves:

My name is Justin Parnell. I don’t think we’ve met. Well, actually, we probably have. That’s too bad I didn’t know who you were at the time. If I did, I doubt I would be writing you this letter.

You took my blue and grey Vans backpack from me on Sunday, February 26th around 6:45 at Grand Prix Baltimore. You were able to grab it in the moments I had my eyes off of it, while I was just feet away around a group of people I know and trust. You must be good at what you do, because that was the only time it foolishly left my touch or sight all weekend. Just in case you’ve forgotten, let’s go over everything you’ve taken from me.

Well, you certainly got my bag, which I’ve loved for many years because it was secure and sturdy enough to hold my most prized possession. It has a tear in the right shoulder at the strap from lovingly caring me on my journeys around the country to play the game I love. You probably dumped my bag in a trashcan somewhere.

You got several of the notes from a project I was working on with my best friend, which we’ve put hundreds and hundreds of hours into. Those notes meant everything to me and my friend, and nothing to everyone else in the world.  You probably scanned over them before realizing that and discarded them too.

You got my extra sleeves and favorite dice, including some of each that I was holding for a friend. The dice are an assorted variety, collected from trading with generous people to finally get all of the shapes and sizes I needed. There’s only about one of each kind, so those probably got tossed in the trash with my bag.

You got 95% of my Legacy and Modern staples. Those mean something to you for sure. Maybe you can sell them like I was going to. I was going to use the large portion of the money from those cards to put towards a new car for my girlfriend. We really can’t afford it, but we can afford even less for her current car to break down. I’m sure she’ll understand why we’ll have to wait several months longer and work a little bit harder at our average paying jobs. I guess we can just cross our fingers.

You’re probably licking your chops now, because you know what’s coming next. It’s likely why you grabbed my bag in the first place.

You took my cube from me. My entirely foiled cube, you know, aside from stuff like Mana Drain, Library of Alexandria, or dual lands. The single most valuable thing I own. It’s taken me over four years to get it completely foiled, but of course I couldn’t do it alone. I’ve had tons of people donate cards, as well as their time to locate hard to find items for me. Even dealers have gone out of their way to make sure I got the best deals possible, because they know how much this cube means to me and how much a player’s happiness in Magic means to them. This cube was more than a collection of cards. It was an extension of me, and representation of what I stand for in the Magic community. I had thousands of hours sharing that cube with hundreds of people. I’ve touched the community and helped countless others discover what they loved about the game. All the way from a kid who starting playing Magic because cubing looked so much fun to our current National Champion.

You most likely spent a few minutes figuring out how to sell it the quickest way.

Really, you’ve take this cube from the community. I can no longer share what I love most about this game with anyone. I’ll have to cancel my weekly cube event at my local store. A place where the love for cube drafting has become so strong I have had to tell people there isn’t enough room on multiple occasions. I won’t be able to share my joy on the Open Series or at any Grand Prixes, bringing people together to do what we all love. You’ve stolen a peg in both the cube and Magic community.

What’s taken me so long to craft and perfect through time, money, and dedication was destroyed in seconds. I’ve had an average job with average pay since I was sixteen, and Magic is where I’ve choose to put the little excess funds I’ve had.

You even have my favorite lands that are each worth no more than any foil basic lands. I’ve been collecting them since the release of Invasion.

My worst nightmare in the hobby that I deeply love has become a reality.

You won’t find anything else in that bag, but you’ve taken incredibly so much more that you can’t possibly see.

You stole a moment away from one of my best friends, who had just secured a Pro Tour invite by Top 4ing the Grand Prix. In what would have been the best moment in his career and an awesome celebration you managed to turn into hours of panic and despair for our close group of friends. We’ll just have to wait until he does it again to celebrate.

While my friends were helping me in my search, you broke into their car and stole their bags, containing a computer used to run a business and the portion of a collection, minus the cards that he was loaning me for use in my cube. You know, which you have as well.

You’ve taken the thing that allowed me to meet my best friends, travel to fantastic places, create amazing memories, and grow as a person.

You stole Magic from me. If fourteen years ago, when I first opened that pack of Urza’s Legacy, someone had told me that eventually everything that I held dear would be stripped away by some immoral slime who never made anything of himself, I would have never gone on this incredible journey.

I am not alone. At GP Baltimore more than 25 backpacks were taken by you. Some of you were caught, most of you were not. These people you stole from had, in large part, come to this Grand Prix to have a wonderful time with the people they enjoy and playing the game they love. How many people have you hurt? How many days, weeks, months, years have you ruined? Every night since has been sleepless for me, and I can only imagine what you’ve done to thousands of others. How many have quit this game, with tears, anger, and frustration, to fuel your greed?

This problem you cause has become absolutely ridiculous. I speak for the community when I say that this is the tipping point, where we say no more. We will watch out for each other’s bags, boxes and decks. Not just watch for you walking off with them, but taking the time to know what our friends are carrying. We will be sure to never let our bags leave our grasps, even for sixty seconds. That was all it took for you to take a huge part of my life.

We’ll know it is not enough to simply acknowledge that theft exists. We have to actively seek you out, and let everyone know who you are. You and I both know that the tournament organizers are not doing enough to curb your appetite for crime, and I hope that changes. We do not deserve to be fearful of our property vanishing.

Luckily, the community has been more amazing than you could ever imagine. We are coming together to stop this from happening to anyone else. This is the breaking point. We have had enough of you. There is no place for you in our community. Every player, vendor, tournament organizer, and Wizards employee will come together to stop you.

So what do I do now that you’ve taken everything from me? I can’t build decks, trade, sell my cards, or cube. It looks like I’ll have to use my time doing something else.

I will dedicate my new found time to finding you.

Once you are found, I am going to put every necessary resource into prosecuting you to the fullest extent of the law. I am going to take from you everything you have taken from me. As much as I can from all of you will all be given back to the community, to help them move forward as they have helped me to do.

I want justice, and I will not stop until I get it. I hope you understand exactly what you’re up against. You are a few fighting against thousands. You will not win. You will not deter us. This is only the beginning.


The Baltimore PD doesn’t take grand larceny lightly. Neither will any other city you are in.

The community is fighting back.

Justin Parnell

Please reshare this message.

Please contact me at jparnell.101@gmail.com or through Facebook or Twitter (@JParnell1) directly with any information on my case, or any other case you would like me to share. Getting every bit of information shared with our amazing community, the city’s convention center staff and the local police for ANY case involving belongings stolen at events helps prevents future theft and will help lead to these criminals. Any piece of concrete evidence helps in these situations. Thanks for listening and sharing, you guys are all truly amazing.

28 comments:

  1. You should post details about the cube, so people that went to Baltimore, or anyone like myself that saw this link shared on facebook, can watch out for cards being sold. I am not certain, but i think you can probably contact ebay see if an account has sold those cards, I'm sorry for your loss, and hope you find the people accountable,
    Jacob Vest

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  2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHxIssSROjk

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  3. i wouldn't prosecute anyone. they stole my collection and i found them it'd be the biggest mistake they ever made. so if any of you are out there chuckling about this article right now you should realize i don't really care. if you've taken my stuff and i find you, i'll burn your house down with your entire family in it.

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  4. So, really let's think about all of this. Dude wants to sell off a collection of magic, also brings a "cube" and dice and sleeves and other stuff too. He waits till final four paring is done by what I got out of that just to sell the cards. Then all the collection he has worked had on gets stollen... Really think about this, it is the stupidest thing I have ever taken the time to read. I have had cards taken and so have some of my closest friends. But the thing is, no matter if we lost a library or as a friend of mine lost a Mox, we don't cry and get messages posted about stuff we will never get back. I am sort for your loss man, but why would you even think about holding the collection that long if you planned to sell it? Venders pay out better early in the events. If you were waiting to sell another day, then why have them? Why bring the "cube"? All that is stupid choices. My people bring only the deck we are playing and pen and paper and whatever tokens. We carry our stuff and watch it. The rule is "if YOU bring YOUR collection and it gets stolen, it is YOUR fault.
    Now I am sorry for you having stuff taken, but dude, backpacks go on the back, magic bags go on shoulders, decks go in hand. You lay it down YOU lose it. As for the computer and whatever else in the car, well my advise is leave non magic stuff at home or in the hotel! I played in the fab 2011 Atlanta GP and people had cars broken into by the homeless. It is not always magic players, it is sometimes the hungry trying to eat...
    For the guy talking about burning a house over cards... IT IS PAPER!!! You need to grow up.
    So I am tired of ranting about this, it was a waste of time to see it, read it, and comment, all this is going to do is piss off people that want to blaim others for their stupid actions.

    So Parnell, I am sorry for your lose and I wish you hasty luck on your rebuilding of income and collection. Hope this showed you the valuable lesson of keeping things in view or on your person...

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    1. Really? "It's paper!"? By that logic, a $100 bill is just cloth and a diamond is just a rock. That paper has value, both financial and sentimental, and you really have to be willfully ignorant to not see that.

      Parnell didn't bring the cube all over to sell, he brought it over to play with people. I've judged dozens of events where people are cubing, and the vast majority of the time people are honest and just have a good time playing cards.

      Victim-blaming doesn't accomplish anything except show who you are as a desperately unsympathetic human being; Parnell's only doing what's well within his rights to do. That he may not succeed is also on him. The humane thing to do is to wish him luck and hope that he recovers at least some of what was taken from him.

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    2. I got the biggest douche chills while I was reading Richey87's reply. You should be able to set your things down without fear of losing them. Just because thievery exists doesn't not mean you just sit there and take it or tolerate it, you should actively try and do something, which is what the point of this post was. I hope you get your cards back, you should consider setting up a paypal donation thing so people can help you at least get your cube back.

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    3. @Richy87

      READING IS FUCKING DIFFICULT.

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    4. Bet you Richey87 was the theif in question.

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    5. @Richy87

      "So I am tired of ranting about this, it was a waste of time to see it, read it, and comment"

      Great thing about computers, there is a key that allows you to delete everything you type.
      If you want to be a douche to someone and do not intend to read what they said about one small lapse in keeping up with something, save yourself and others time and do not post. If you actually have lost any of the things that you say you have, then you know that you don't immediately get over it, even with how small the loss you claim to have is compared to the amount of value lost by Justin. The entire community should not have to worry about the safety of their possessions at large scale tournaments, PERIOD.

      "The rule is 'if YOU bring YOUR collection and it gets stolen, it is YOUR fault.'"--While you might think this is true, a lot of the time it is not. Human decency tends to show that you should not steal from one another. Even though you might watch your possessions for 99% of the time that you are at an event you can not say that there is not a moment where you glance away or do not completely pay attention. Thieves are always going to be looking for any opportunity, whether this means waiting for you to briefly walk away or even as has happened at some prior events, assaulting you.

      I will agree with you that burning down houses is a bit much, as angry as I would be with someone who stole that large a sum of money from me, there are certain boundaries. While I agree that this is the wrong way to respond to things, telling someone that it isn't justified because as you put it "IT IS PAPER!!!" is not completely true. For most people that show up to these larger events, things like collections or cubes are the product of something that they have either spent a large amount of time creating or collecting and signifies an investment of both time and money that the person in question has spent. If you like to think of your magic collection as just paper, then you are certainly entitled to that opinion but that does not give you justification to belittle others who do not share your opinion. Theft is starting to become a major issue at larger events, but taking vigilante actions will not solve this issue. TO's need to find venues that are safe for players, and at this time it appears apparent that they need to hire security for these events.

      In closing I hope that the thief or thieves in question are caught and prosecuted. I am hoping that Justin gets most if not all of the things stolen from him, as well as any other victims who are not as well documented, back. Hopefully the surveillance from the event and the local PD will be able to track down the thieves from this event and begin to put a stop to this before this becomes a large epidemic.

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  5. While I was in Providence last year, I had an EDH stolen from me. I set it down after putting the last card in it, and when an event was kicked off in our area less than a minute later, it was gone as I stood up to pack, stolen right off the table in front of me. For those of you who don't know me, my name is John Donovan. I am one of the well known names in Japanese foil trading. The deck was done. Literally JUST completed in a trade I made there. It was Xiahou Dun fully Japanese, Beta, Judge Foil, Korean, basically, every "pimp" version of the cards in the deck, including Japanese foil Polluted Delta, Bloodstained Mire, the two black Zen Fetches, Urborg, and MANY MANY other insane foils. Not to mention the General was a Full Art alter. I guessed the value of the deck to be around $7000 at the time and realize it was closer to $12,000 later on. I spent MONTHS trading for the pieces, and for me as a full time trader, that's an eternity to finish a deck. Now, I didn't lose my entire collection, but I can sympathize with the loss. I am sickened by people who steal. They are the worst kinds of people and we as a community NEED to come together NOW to stop it.

    Richey, as for your comments, I don't think you understand why people carry a cube. Its to have fun at events like he was at. And for your comments about dealers paying better numbers at the start of the event... I am a backpack dealer who makes my living buying/trading/selling. I usually end up selling at the end of the weekend and get the same numbers I would have on a Friday at noon at a GP. Get a real perspective before you spout things that just aren't true.

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    1. I sell off most of my cards I bring to every event. Staples have always been higher value at the beginning more then the end. I don't buy cards till the end cause you can talk people down in price a little, I sell at the beginning cause you can most of the time talk up the price. TCG events are the best for that. That's really been the way for me in the last few years more then when I started.

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    2. I don't think you really understand what a cube, or a collection is, Richey. Try to at least know what something is before you go criticizing and belittling.

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  7. Justin, after seeing everything you've done for the community (whether it be local or the larger community), it's sickening to see this type of shit happen. I hope you find this guy, and get whatever you can back.

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  8. I think what Richey was asking is that if he brought modern and legacy staples to sell to get money for a car for his girlfriend, why were they still in his bag, why hadn't he sold them yet. I don't think he was waiting for a better time to sell I'm sure he had all the time in the world because no one goes to an event thinking their bag will get stolen

    I think Richey's post was a prime example of why this article was written. Magic players need to change their idealogies about theft at events. Half like Richey blame the victim, that the reason they were robbed was because they were not protecting their shit well enough. The other half and this may be just my opinion are too comfortable and put too much faith in the goodness of their fellow players in the magic community

    I think Justin is pushing for the community as a whole to be more vigilant about theft and not only look out for your cards but keep an eye on other people cards, if you see something that looks shady speak up, don't let someone walk off with something that might not be theirs. If you are wrong so what, the person should be happy that you cared enough to pay attention

    I'm not sure that will work though, I don't think people are nice enough to care what happens to somoeone that is not in their friend group and just playing the same game as someone is not going to unite an entire group. If that was the case you wouldnt have people cheating to get an advantage with gameplay

    But what is the answer? Who knows? If the event could provide enough lockers so that players could lock up their bags when not playing or trading, whould players pay to rent them out? Do you need some form of "security" at the front door doing bag checks would that help?

    If anything 25 freaking bags being stolen from one event and Justin's dedication to his campaign should get people talking and brainstorming on finding a solution because clearly there is a problem

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    1. I just wanna say thank you, you at least understood what I was saying. To me that's like leaving your door to your car open and the key in the seat. You really think it will stay there every time you do that? No! Sometime down the road it will get jacked. It is a cruel world and people steal, more so when the price of the "paper" as I call it gets to more then the price of life... But you know what, it's still paper, and I pay a lot for that paper. I love magic, I have played from 2000 till now. I go to events when I can. I have had cards taken from binders, decks from bags, and even a card from a deck, it's the way the world is, cruel and greedy. So I'm just hoping more people read my words and take that more then anything.

      Btw, sorry if this is hard to read, I am attempting post from an iPhone and this site does not work well with my phone for some reason.

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  9. I had a Damnation and an Ulamog stolen from me at my local shop and I was enraged. I cannot even begin to imagine what this would feel like :( I really hope justice is served for all those that were stolen from!

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  10. While I don't know Justin, I do know a lot of his friends, including the aforementioned GP Top 4 participant. I also know John Donovan fairly well. As a high school student back in 2000, I had my Ultra Pro case of cards taken in the same manner that Justin did and it just crushed me. I quit playing Magic pretty much until I was in college. Theft in the Magic community is atrocious and if Justin's story stops even one future theft or results in the prosecution of one thief, it will have all been worth it.

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  11. This was very, VERY deep. It touched me on a level I didn't expect. I am new to the world of magic, so I don't know much about the game yet. But to take someones cards is unforgivable. Magic cards are the very life force of the duelist, and to have that stolen is just so vile. I truly hope you catch that son of a bitch! Though it may not get you your lost treasure, at least some semblance of justice is good compensation.

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  12. Hi, I was another one of the many players who had their backpacks stolen. Luckily I do to bring my entire collection with me and only the key decks for tournaments.

    I had my legacy deck, two other decks, perfect condition set of wastelands, and about $200 in other cards I had purchased that day!

    I was there with a group of 15 other friends/acquaintances, and we all spread out and looked for the backpack or information relating to it.

    I had spoken with the tournament organizer, the security, judges, and other players.

    It seems that between 15-20 backpacks were stolen each day, at the Grand Pre, and that there was an organized group that was responsible for doing it. (As far as I know they were never caught.)

    I have been to numerous large MTG conventions, and this is THE FIRST TIME, that so much stealing has occurred. Something very unusual was definitely going on at this convention.

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  13. i am grown up. the way i see it is this: if you steal from me or anyone be prepared for some consequences. i just won't go to the police. i don't trust the legal system. if you think you're going to get away with grand larceny if you steal from me you won't. i will make your life miserable and everyone around you. yes i am dead serious. i will burn your house to the ground. i will slash your tires and put sand in your gas tank. i will find you and you'll wish i didn't. i don't steal. i am an honest player and don't cheat. the problem with society today is too many get away with too much. you steal from me you wont get away with anything. you've been warned. i hope this guy finds whomever it was and decides not to trust the legal system for justice. you'll never get back what you lost. if the guy has no record he'll get a slap and you'll be out thousands of dollars it sounds like. if you make the thief's life shambles, at least you'll get personal satisfaction at some level, and he will have to forever look over his shoulder. once the house is burned down you just find out where he lives next. i'll never stop. and yeah if you're a thief and a tough guy i'll bring my gun too. i'm just saying i really don't care about social norms or appropriate actions. if it's a bad thing to threaten a potential thief of my belongings i really don't give a shit. they'll wish they never did.

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  14. Had you not spent all of your money on Magic cards, you could have afforded to buy your girlfriend a new car without adding the step of selling Magic cards for cash in-between.

    That being said, theft is no laughing matter and this is pretty crappy. I sold a small collection for $1,500 once and even with the money, I felt like I had lost something afterward. It's not just that it's a hobby, but it's an excuse to associate with familiar faces during free time. That's why I put together an EDH deck again after being out of the game for a few years.

    If you're looking for a silver-lining in this situation however, at least now with your cards gone you have a chance to re-evaluate your priorities and the way you budget your spending. If you and your significant other are on a tight budget, Magic: The Gathering is perhaps a time (and money) sink that should not be a part of your life at this time. If one thing is for sure, it is that Magic is not a cheap hobby.

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  15. Let me be the second to say this. Magic cards are still cardboard. While it's great to pull a valuable card out of a booster pack, it's still cardboard. Why have we let ourselves get to the point that Magic is more about the value of cards and not about enjoying the game? I own a few hundred dollars in cards, don't get me wrong, but seeing people like this who have poured thousands of dollars into into a card game, tend to rub me the wrong way.

    Sorry, I really don't know why I'm posting this, but here it goes: A Magic card, according to most police departments in the Midwest/United States, is only worth the value of the actual material. That hundred dollar card you loved so much is only worth a cent in the eye of the police. To them, once again, it's "just cardboard." Showing up at a police department stammering and whinning about how "someone took my Magic cards!" sound like a kindegartener crying to his teacher about how someone took his pencil.

    Not to point blame also, but setting your bag down at any magic event that isn't with friends is a bad idea. Even under your chair isn't a safe place. May I suggest wrapping your legs in the straps? That is my personal favorite method for securing my bag.

    that's about it, sorry if I sound like I'm ranting or chewing you out....

    Keep Calm, Magic On!

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  16. Well I, for one, can begin naming names... I had a large portion of my collection stolen by a shop owner!!! It was a big trade, including 26 dual lands (some from Unlimited) plus a plethora of other rares and hard to finds... anyway I was stupid and trusted that this DB, since he had a shop, was reliable. Not so.

    I never received the items I was promised via mail, never got a return phone call or email, and when I finally returned to the Sword and the Stone in Whitesburg, KY he was gone. Yes Shannon Ferrell I AM talking about you!

    I found you, by the grace of God working at a card shop in Corbin, KY ... the look on your face when I walked into the shop was priceless! You did reimburse me somewhat with cards from the store you were "managing" -- I wonder now if you stole from them since you no longer work there...

    Since then I have filed (and won) my claim in court and I am actively seeking you to collect (which btw the court has attached a 12% interest fee so you get to pay interest when you're found:) I have not forgotten you and I hope that the entire MTG community recognizes your face and spurns your existence! Most of all, I curse you until you have paid back all you have stolen from me and everyone else!

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  17. At GP Dallas last year I had a Binder stolen with a Bazaar of Baghdad, 4 foil accumulated knowledge, many foil sideboard type cards for the standard rug deck. I was returning a promotional deck box to the Judge stage and forgot to zip up the back most zipper of my ultra pro back pack. As I was walking away from the stage, and slinging my back pack on, I heard and felt the leather ultra pro binder slide out of the bag from gravity and plop on the floor. I immediately turned around to pick it up and it was already snatched up by someone. So ruthless, I made day 2, and played completely on tilt the entire morning because of the theft.

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  18. I don't play Magic anymore. I play other games, but nothing that requires as extensive bookkeeping as Magic does. Thing is, this doesn't just happen to Magic Players. It happens to us Battletech players, Yu-gi-oh players contnd with theft, Warhammer and 40K players, Even my friends who play strictly RPGs have to deal with theft. In an industry that counts on social interaction for it's liveliehood it is sad that they cripple us with this sort of behavior. Those who chant the old line; "If it gets stolen it's your own damned fault.", Should be smacked. We invest hundreds, if not thousands. I personally have collected my wargaming minis for almost 30 years. I have several that are impossible to find and still in high demand. that range easily from 100 to 300 dolalrs for one mini on ebay at any given time. I know some of Justin's collection was probably worth 20 grand easily for a set of moxes and such. My thing is, alert the vendors, give them a list of the stolen goods like the cops do, have them keep their eyes open for anyone who suddenly has these particular ones all at once. Most thieves are lazy and fearful of punishment. They will unload them as quick as they can. Being a long time player and collector you probably know exactly what was stolen. or Damned near. My hopes yo urecover some or all, and catch the bastards responsible Justin.

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  19. This makes me sick to read, and I hope you get the bastards! At the World Championships in Chiba, Japan a couple years ago, my friend got his Geth EDH deck stolen. It had so much in it -- not only cards but the time collecting. Unhinged lands and whatnot. A great deck. And someone just stole it. At the time, I was just getting into Magic, so I didn't understand why tears came to my friend's eyes. I was like, "it's just cards, dude." Now I understand better.

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