Pokémon and Other Trading Cards Targets of Unprecedent Number of Robberies in Japan

Pokémon and Other Trading Cards Targets of Unprecedent Number of Robberies in Japan


Criminals in Tokyo have committed a slew of burglaries targeting high-value trading cards, and the thefts have amounted to “tens of millions of yen” in damages, according to a new report from The Japan Times.

First spotted by Nintendo Life, The Japan Times article cites sources from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department and describes how “several” stores located in the city’s Akihabara district had fallen victim to late-night card burglaries in the latter half of 2022.

One December break-in saw criminals make away with 60 high-value cards worth a grand total of 8.5 million yen ($64,147 USD). This was just one of five burglaries targeting trading cards that have occurred since the Summer of 2022.

However, not all of the burglaries were of a physical nature. On December 14 last year, a 25-year-old man was arrested after allegedly purchasing roughly 1,000 Pokemon cards from an online store using a stolen credit card. It is thought that the man was then able to re-sell his ill-gotten mon at a second-hand Tokyo card store before getting picked up by the police.

Unnamed sources in The Japan Times piece also noted that the cards are an easy target for thieves, and that “It’s difficult to identify the whereabouts of stolen cards because they are not uniquely numbered and may be taken overseas”.

In the 2021 fiscal year ending in March 2022, the Japanese trading card market was estimated to have a value of roughly 178 billion yen (1.34 billion USD), according to the website Statista. This accounted for almost 20 % of the entire country’s toy market during that period.

It’s worth noting that the recent spate of crimes doesn’t represent the first time that humanity’s lust for collectable cards has placed individuals on the wrong side of the law.

Back in March 2021 a man was arrested after allegedly using a rope to descend from a six-story building in order to break into yet another store in the Higashi-Ikebukuro district. The 28-year-old was reportedly able to abscond with a haul of Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh cards with a value of 1 million yen (around $9,100 USD), and thousands of dollars worth of cash before being arrested by the police.

Just a few months later in March, a Georgian man was arrested for using a fraudulently acquired COVID-19 relief loan to buy a first-edition shadowless holographic Charizard.

We can only hope that the global police force are able to complete their criminal Pokedex before any further damage is done to the world’s supply of valuable trading cards.


Anthony is a freelance contributor covering science and video gaming news for . He has over eight years experience of covering breaking developments in multiple scientific fields and absolutely no time for your shenanigans. Follow him on Twitter @BeardConGamer

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