[November 20, 2023]
For more than 15 years, Other Worlds Games and Comics has provided a home base for the table-top gaming community of SW Portland, kids and adults alike. Packed with collectible toys, games, game cards and comics, the shop is always pleasantly bustling. Gaming events attract players of all ages on evenings and weekends; kids come for after-school gaming sessions of Dungeons and Dragons or Magic: the Gathering, and for camps during summer and other school holidays. Grateful parents have dropped kids off for camps every morning during the teacher's strike this month.
But as trading cards games like Magic:The Gathering and Pokémon become increasingly popular, the collectible cards have grown in value and game shops are becoming a bigger target for thieves looking for products they can easily re-sell.
The merchandise is evidently so popular with thieves that one came back twice in a week earlier this month, ultimately making off with several thousand dollars worth of Magic: The Gathering and Pokemon cards, as well as valuable collector comics.
Owner Ron Connell said that around 4am on a Sunday morning, and then again the following Saturday at around 3am, the front door lock at Other Worlds was broken giving access to a single burglar.
Security cameras in the store show a masked figure in loose clothing making several trips in and out over a period of about 15 minutes. Although masked, gloved, and wearing loose clothing, the person is nevertheless recognizable as a white female. Equipped with what Connell described as a large "santa bag," the burglar headed directly to the high-value merchandise, having evidently cased the store before the break-in. "They knew exactly where to find what they wanted," said Connell.
The thief returned the following weekend to scoop up more of the same and whatever had been overlooked the first time, breaking the new lock that had just been installed days before. After the first break-in Connell replaced the broken lock with a similar model, but after the second incident he is now looking at more secure locks that also come with a hefty price tag, possibly as high as $1,000.
Magic: The Gathering, Disney Lorcana, and Pokémon game cards.
Connell is insured for the losses, but there's also the deductible and the hassle of two police reports and two insurance claims, as well as a feeling of general unease and frustration. The night following the first break-in Ron "staked out" his shop all his night, and, following the thief's second visit, he said he will probably continue to keep an eye out during the early morning hours for the foreseeable future.
While Connell's store hasn't been hit in several years, game shops around town and around the country have experienced increasing incidences of theft, according to Connell, particularly around the monthly release of new cards. The resale and counterfeit market for game cards has seen a huge increase since the pandemic, at least in part due to social media “influencers," he says. Occasionally someone will come to the shop to sell cards that Ron or his staff suspect are stolen.
Disney has recently entered the collectible cards fray with the release of a new game called Lorcana. The cards, based on Disney characters, are sold out online and are already selling on the second-hand market for hundreds of dollars a piece. Other Worlds had received a Lorcana shipment just before the first break-in. Connell had locked those away for the night before the next day's release, thwarting any plans the thief may have had to score some of those.
Connell has been "greatly touched" by the supportive response to his Facebook posts about the thefts, and the many offers of help he received. The best way to help, he says, is to come out for this year's Shop Small event on Saturday, November 25, and support his and other local businesses.
Magic, Pokémon, Lorcana–are you a fan or skeptic? Let us know.