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'It's not starving nerds trying to get their board game fix': Game and toy stores report string of burglaries around Vancouver

One store owner said the pandemic has slowed production, making inventory scarce, which makes those stolen items more valuable when resold.
Credit: Jon Gudgel

VANCOUVER, Wash. — Security cameras captured a man breaking into Toy Box Heroz in Hazel Dell early Thursday morning. Later that same morning, cameras caught the man returning with a second guy before walking out with several bags of merchandise. Needless to say, it was a rough day for store owner Nick Burnham.

“It's frustrating to come in and with everything going on in the world right now," said Burnham, "it's just one more thing to add to it."

Burnham reported the break-ins to the Vancouver Police Department. He's still sorting out his losses, which include retro video games and action figures worth a couple hundred dollars each.

“They got more than they deserve,” said Burnham.

Late Tuesday night, cameras captured a similar break-in at BatCave Games on Southeast Mill Plain in Vancouver.

“It feels like a violation. It feels intrusive,” said owner Matt D. Parker. 

Parker said he was upset but not surprised by what happened.

“This is pretty much becoming a pattern,” said Parker. “If any other game stores are watching this, I'd say if you were worried before, you should be a bit more worried now.”

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Parker said items sold on the secondary market are fetching big dollars now because new inventory is so scarce. He said production has been down during the pandemic, increasing value through supply and demand.

“It's not like a starving family trying to get Pokémon cards for their kids,” said Parker. “It's not like a bunch of starving nerds trying to get their board game fix. It's some dudes that said, ‘We know there's money in this, and we want some of that money.’”

Parker figured his break-in cost him the value of four days worth of sales. After the year both owners had, they hope anyone who recognizes the burglars will let police know.

“We're all hurting already,” said Parker. “We're all a little numb.”

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