Japanese Man Scales Building to Steal Pokémon Cards, Gets Arrested

Gotta catch ‘em all, indeed.
pokemon, Japan, trading cards
The man scaled a six-story building to steal the cards. Photo: Shutterstock (left); TORU YAMANAKA / AFP

A Japanese man was arrested on Monday for allegedly descending a building by rope to steal Pokémon playing cards.

Kensuke Nakanishi, an IT worker from Tokyo, used rope to scale down a six-story building to steal trading cards worth $9,120, as well as $2,370 in cash, the Japanese police said. He made off with about 80 Pokémon and Yugioh! cards and the cash, hoping to pay off a debt, the Mainichi Shimbun reported.


According to the police in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro neighborhood, the 28-year-old man went to the building’s roof before dawn on March 23 to tie a piece of rope to the railing. Using no safety harness, Nakanishi climbed down about 5 meters and broke the window of a trading cards store before entering it.

“I was in my high school's rock climbing club, so I wasn’t afraid of heights,” the police quoted Nakanishi as saying when asked why he chose the audacious method. The police said they identified Nakanishi using surveillance footage and arrested him.

Trading cards, though always coveted by select loyal fans, have seen a surge in demand during the coronavirus pandemic as people turn to nostalgic games to occupy themselves at home.

In February, eBay reported a 574 percent increase in sales of Pokémon cards from 2019 to 2020 in the United States. Charizard, an orange dragon-like Pokémon species, was the most popular. 

Just last week, a rare first-edition Charizard went for $300,000 on eBay after the American YouTuber and rapper Logic paid $220,000 for one of the cards.

In general, the trading cards category grew 142 percent in 2020, with 4 million more cards sold on eBay than in the previous year. 

The police did not disclose which Pokémons they recovered from the theft. 

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