My name Is Austin Sweeney and I am a new Columnist here at Snapkeepgames.com as well as one of the newest additions to the team. I’m very happy to be a part of this and excited to see all of the feedback I get for my first article!
On a much more somber note, one of the most widespread issues that affect the magic community is theft, and while many have spoken on the matter, nothing has changed. Let us hearken back to a time where Stromkirk Noble was still in standard, I had just finished attacking my opponent for lethal by trampling over with two Blood Rushed Ghor-Clan Rampagers. As I was much more of a novice back then, I look to my opponent and said unnervingly “any responses” he had nothing; I sign the slip and go to grab my bag. It isn’t there. I panic and look around and I soon fall into sudden shock, and as anyone knows, it’s a feeling that you have no hope of drawing a response to. I sulk down in my seat everything I owned my dice, my modern deck that I had assembled through months of FNM finishes and trades and the remainder of my binder. All gone in a split-second… I was speechless, I whimpered and cried until the next round went up I couldn’t even keep myself together after falling to 0-1 in the match I gave it to my opponent. I went outside the hall and just sat and tried to gather myself, but as I was still Twelve years old, I really couldn’t. I dropped from the tournament talked to security and the T.O and they said they’d do the best to look and that I should fill out a police report. I did and I waited as time went on I called and called both security and the police to no avail. No one really seemed to understand what was going on or why I was so upset. After that incident I didn’t have much just my deck and the ten or so dollars I got for allowance each week. Through the help of a close friend Clint Harford, I assembled a stronger deck in Bant Hexproof and I exhausted all of my resources doing it. I knew one thing: If I wanted to keep playing this game, I had to win. I went to FNM that week gave them my last ten dollars, and then, swiftly top 4ed and never looked back.
Fast forward a few years, and things like this still happen at every other event I attend. I always hear mummers of a lost deck or a snatched binder, but these stories never seem to have a resolution. The last thief caught was someone who attempted to steal from vendors during GP Toronto only to be apprehended attempting to do it again. But that was only because the inner network of vendors organized to catch him, players don’t have that luxury. In all honesty, there aren’t that many awarded to us to begin with.
Say your deck is stolen at an event you will most likely receive the same speech I was given: contact the police, find security and ask them to roll the film, and hope a kind soul turns it into lost and found. That response sounds like a full proof way of trying to retrieve cards, but in practice, it hasn’t done much for those affected.
Let’s start with contacting the police. When you contact the police for a stolen item typically you have a receipt for it or a license number that they can look up in a database. Magic cards have neither, I can’t remember the last time I bought a few cards from a vendor at a GP or made a trade and got a receipt. It also is safe to say looking for someone’s stolen card collection isn’t the highest priority for any police force, and it shouldn’t be. You’ll never get magnum P.I on the trail of your deck because all he has to go on is the box and sleeves it was in and those are easy enough to discard and a deck is easy enough to piece out. Though in hindsight, vendors have now implemented a system of pseudo P.O.S when they buy cards from anyone which could help in finding stolen goods.
To finish out the trio: we have contacting security for camera footage. That Is a valid form of evidence but the lanes of convention halls are often crowded and the only traceable image is generally an unclear one of the thief walking away with your items. Say you find solid evidence that may not be enough. A man was seen on camera stealing another player’s bag at GP New York, and even with his face clearly displayed for the entire community to see, multiple people have said that he is still going to major events.Who knows what he is getting away with? So say you get very lucky, and someone turns your deck into lost and found. The system that SCG has in place is for the person claiming the deck to list out a number of cards in it and it is handed over without further questioning. This system seems full proof except for one thing when you play a long drawn out game your opponent sees a fair portion of your deck. So we can conclude, your opponent could easily claim your deck without much effort if they knew it was at the lost and found. This exact same scenario happened to Brandon Bowdish this weekend at SCG Baltimore. He went to lost and found after being notified it had been turned in, and the SCG staff beat around the bush until finally admitting, it had been given to someone else. They would not even give Brandon the info to help him on his search seeming to extend the feeling that this tragedy is on a continuum that has brought about the same response for as long as I can remember.
While I don’t have a direct answer and don’t have the power to make decisions that could allow them to be put into place, I can say one thing and it’s that we as a community need to not blame the person for being stupid or negligent and look deeper into resolving these issues as a whole regardless of how insurmountable they seem. It’s happened to me it can happen to you so why not pay it forward: Below is a link to Brandon’s go fund me to help him get a new deck and keep playing this game we all hold so dear.