Robberies targeting comic book shops on the rise in Edmonton

There's a trend of comic book stores getting robbed in Edmonton: most recently, Wizard's Comics & Collectibles on the southside was hit twice in three days and the thieves got away with thousands of dollars' worth of merchandise. As Lisa MacGregor reports, it's the latest crime wave and the criminals know exactly what to look for: Pokemon and Magic the Gathering cards that can fetch a big resale price.

It was 8:30 a.m. when a person with their face covered and wearing gloves broke the back door of Rolling Tales Pop Culture, security camera footage shows.

Co-owner Jay Bardyla said they seemed to be aware of where the cameras were and precisely what items would be easiest to sell.

“They obviously knew exactly what they were looking for,” Bardyla said of the break-in to his store that occurred in early December.

The thief went behind the counter, shovelled merchandise into a duffel bag and left — all in under three minutes.

Now Bardyla is warning his fellow comic book shop owners of a rising trend of robberies after another comic shop was hit twice this weekend.

Wizard’s Comics and Collectibles on the south side was hit twice in three days recently, possibly losing thousands.

That’s only the latest robbery targeting a comic book store, Bardyla says. Of the dozen-or-so comic book stores in town, he said half have been robbed in the last six months.

“There’s obviously something going on and I don’t know if anyone is paying attention,” he said.

Bardyla said his store near Rabbit Hill Road and 23 Avenue was robbed of about $5,000 worth of merchandise, mainly collectible card game booster packs of about 15 cards for Pokémon and Magic the Gathering.

“Some of those cards can be really valuable, and on some of the secondary markets, people can sell those cards for $20, $50, $100, even up to $500 a card.”

Bardyla warned other stores to consider beefing up their security and taking extra precautions.

Police in Edmonton are investigating the pattern of robberies to comic book stores.

“It’s tough to say the reasons as to why that’s happening but it is a trend that we have noticed,” said Sgt. Aubrey Zalaski with Edmonton Police Service (EPS).

Thefts under $5,000 from any business are up about 20 per cent over the past year in the city, according to police.

“We’re trying to stay on top and be as proactive as we can,” said Zalaski, adding that rates of specific types of crimes ebb and flow and it’s hard to point to any one reason for the increase.

Zalaski said the stolen merchandise will likely be put up for sale online, like on Kijiji or Facebook Marketplace, and anyone who sees suspicious items for sale should report it to police.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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