The mystery surrounding a recent batch of stolen Magic: The Gathering cards has been un-Veil-ed, if you’ll excuse the pun!
Wizards of the Coast have been central to an investigation of stolen Magic cards that were taken from their Renton, Washington headquarters last year. Back in October 2014, Wizards announced that a promotional foil Liliana of the Veil would be the prize card for the Khans of Tarkir Pro Tour season.
Liliana of the Veil is a staple for many Standard format decks, ensuring the promo is well sought-after in the community as a whole.
In order to receive a copy of the card, players would have to get through some stiff competition in a Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifier. If they managed to win one of these, they would then be invited to a Regional Pro Tour Qualifier where they would be handed their very own copy of the foil card.
Approximately 5,000 copies of the card were made and distributed to 32 participating Regional Pro Tour stores, with all but 422 copies of the card being handed out to players. The remaining 422 copies were sent back to Wizards of the Coast in Renton, WA — these were then later discovered to be missing.
The card is currently valued to be worth around $200 – a true collector’s item. At a total of approximately $84,400, this was no small haul of stolen goods!
Several months later, a local hobby and card store in Renton, Shane’s Big League, contacted Wizards of the Coast because of a suspicious request they’d received from a group of walk-in customers.
They were asked if they would like to buy several copies of the card — seven, to be exact — from the shady trio. The staff found the request to be odd, as only attendees of the recent Regional Pro Tour Qualifiers should have had access to the card.
The inquiry made by the staff led to them learning that over 400 copies of the card were stolen from Wizards, and that the cards being offered to them could very well be among those that were stolen.
Wizards then launched their own investigation using a dummy account on eBay to purchase a copy of the card from a seller who was selling multiple copies of the card at around $160 apiece. They were then able to contact the seller directly who informed them that he had acquired 25 copies of the card from a contact known only as “John”.
Local police in Renton were able to track down “John”, and after several weeks he later turned over 175 copies of the card to the police sergeant. The majority of the cards still remain missing, and the investigation into their whereabouts continues.
Some believe that this may have been an inside job, as there would have been very few opportunities for someone to steal 422 copies of one card from the Renton facility. Police are not excluding this as a possibility in their ongoing investigation of the theft.
There are multiple Magic: The Gathering–related thefts each year, with most of them being complete collections or high-value decks stolen at events. Last year, an entire $15,000 collection was stolen but then recovered with the help of another friendly local game store.
Our advice is to be extra vigilant of your belongings when at tournaments and other crowded public spaces. Not all theft stories have happy endings, and in some cases it can end a player’s enjoyment of the game forever. Keep your eyes peeled and your cards close!