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    The Great Pokemon Card Heist


    As a person with no criminal tendencies, it is difficult to imagine what goes on in the minds of criminals. But it’s safe to assume they’ll make tough decisions before they head out. First of all, they have to be clear about what they actually want to steal from the wide world of modern consumption. banknotes? Cryptocurrencies? Painting? Everything has its disadvantages: The classic robbery may not bring much in times of cashless payment. Hacking internet accounts requires special computer knowledge. An art theft is expensive and, depending on the size of the stolen work, can get on your spine. It could be because of such considerations that the Pokémon card has established itself as a practical stolen good in Japan.

    The brand name Pokémon stands for pocket monsters. He is the collective term for the fantasy creatures that the Japanese franchise company of the same name has been marketing since 1996 with worldwide success as the main characters of computer games, manga, cartoons and a trading card game. The latter in particular is a hit. As collectibles, the cards with the images of the various creatures from the Pokémon world have long been the cooler alternative to postage stamps. And just like rare stamps, rare Pokémon cards are worth a fortune. According to the video game portal of the US platform Fan-Nation, you can get $420,000, almost 390,000 euros, for a First Edition Charizard card from 1999. A 1998 Pikachu Holo Illustrator was even worth six million dollars, 5.55 million euros.

    Most Japanese people would rather save than invest their hard-earned money. But if you look at how the value of some Pokémon cards has increased over the years, Japanese banks should actually advise their customers to buy Pokémon cards instead of stocks or gold. And many criminals in the island state have apparently recognized the opportunity that lies in the colorful cards: handy when stealing, easy to hide – and so popular with fans that they can be sold at high prices without appearing suspicious. The result: The cases of Pokémon card robbery are increasing.

    Just this week it was announced that Tokyo police arrested a 35-year-old man suspected of stealing 1,500 Pokémon cards worth 1.15 million yen from a store in Akihabara district . In mid-May, the manager of a newly opened specialty store in Arao, Kumamoto Prefecture, reported that someone had broken into his home. The shop’s glass window was broken. Around 600 Pokémon cards worth 6.5 million yen (43,100 euros) were missing, including a particularly valuable piece for 600,000 yen, almost 4,000 euros. A few days later, broadcaster NHK reported that Tokyo police arrested a 25-year-old man who stole 74 Pokémon cards worth 2.2 million yen from a store in Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi Prefecture, in early May should have. Yuki M. was clearly visible on the surveillance camera recordings. According to the police, he is said to have confessed. Officers also found cards from other stores in his apartment.

    The burglary in Akihabara happened back in April, on a Wednesday morning at five. The stolen goods are said to have included a card worth 160,000 yen (1,060 euros). But overall, this heist was less lucrative than the others. Because the perpetrator had no idea about Pokémon cards? The arrested Masaki O., from Urasoe in Japan’s southernmost prefecture of Okinawa, has told the police that the robbery was commissioned work. He met his client on Twitter. This offered him more than one million yen.

    It’s a long journey from Okinawa to Tokyo, and Masaki O. evidently had no qualms when the client handed him the burglary tools. The Pokémon card heist seems to make sense for people in dire need of cash. Police say they are now looking for the mastermind behind the Akihabara crime. Who knows what else she will unearth in this case. Perhaps a Pokémon card mafia has long been at work.

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