This article was originally published on August 7, and has been updated on August 15 to include new information on two "strong persons of interest", identified as the developers of the card game Castle Assault. It was updated again in August 31 when the cards were returned, and has now been updated September 7, as the persons of interest have been charged. Click here to jump to the new information.
As first spotted by Dicebreaker, a recent statement from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) reports that around $300,000's worth of trading cards were stolen from Gen Con 2023 August 2.
IMPD detectives are seeking the public’s help in identifying two people of interest possibly involved in a theft of upwards to $300,000 worth of gaming cards.For more information follow the link below.https://t.co/qOsvSW4Hy4 pic.twitter.com/3qZ98UcPMpAugust 4, 2023
The IMPD's official statement revealed more about the card thieves. "The people of interest reportedly acquired a pallet jack, removed one pallet of gaming cards, and moved them to an unknown location."
Two additional photos were posted by the IMPD, asking the public to help identify its potential suspects, who can be seen below, strolling out of Gen Con with the pallet trailing behind them.
***Update*** two additional photos have been added. Detectives are still seeking help in identifying both individuals. https://t.co/s7mMPbcR6I pic.twitter.com/nB9uVGaCT1August 5, 2023
Then, on August 14 (as reported by Gizmodo) the IMPD identified and named two suspects in the ongoing case: Andrew Pearson Giaume and Thomas J. Dunbar.
The IMPD's news page on Facebook updated its call for public help, alongside several other photos of the "strong persons of interest". One photo even showed a suspect wearing what appears to be Castle Assault t-shirt.
Giaume and Dunbar are designers themselves, and are the creators of the card game "Castle Assault", which describes itself as "tower defence meets tactical strategy". The game was successfully kickstarted in 2015, and it's been played at Gen Con before—in 2017. Though, the game's official Facebook page still has that year's advertisement as its banner image.
It's likely that the pair were taking advantage of the pre-event rush, where scenes of event staff moving pallets are commonplace. "The alleged theft took place before the opening of events in the downtown area and while vendors were setting up their displays at various times."
These ill-gotten goods wouldn't stay missing, however. As reported by Dicebreaker, on August 29 the IMPD released this statement on the ongoing case. "IMPD detectives were able to locate and recover the stolen merchandise in New York City on Friday, August 25 … the cards are in the process of being returned to Indianapolis and held as evidence."
While the IMPD rightfully noted the suspects should be "considered innocent until proven guilty", that didn't stop people from attempting their own form of vigilante justice against the suspect's game Castle Assault. Its rating has sunk to 3.8 on BoardGameGeek at the time of writing after a sea of one-point review bombs, with the occasional voice of calm poking through.
A separate statement released by the IMPD August 17 read "Detectives are no longer looking for these persons of interest. Detectives have been in communication with their attorneys. The case is expected to presented to the prosecutor's office in the near future for charging consideration."
On September 5, the IMPD released a statement confirming that "Thomas Dunbar and Andrew Giaume have each been charged with Theft (Level 5 Felony) for their alleged roles in this incident."
Polygon later received an affidavit with further details: "Police received security footage that showed the alleged theft, which featured two white men matching Dunbar’s and Giaume’s descriptions using a pallet jack to relocate a pallet full of boxes wrapped in plastic. Once the men removed the pallet of cards from the Pastimes booth, it’s alleged that they then hid it under a curtain."
It's also been reported that both Giaume and Dunbar had initially registered badges in their names, though changed them either shortly before or after the crime was committed. "The affidavit says the names were changed to Scott Fischer and Ashriel Lockheart sometime between [August 1] and [August 5]."
The sheer estimated value of a single pallet—one that could pay off roughly eight combined student debts in the US at the time of writing—boggles the mind. It's not entirely surprising, though: some ultra-rare cards have gone for as much as $2 million, and even empty boxes of Magic: The Gathering items have sold for hundreds.
Despite this, the pallet was likely sold for a petty $4,000, according to a New York attorney representing its buyer. Reportedly, the buyer didn't realise their full value until they returned home and saw the theft on the news. "On Aug. 25, the New York State Police went to that attorney’s office, where they found 115 boxes of Magic: The Gathering trading cards and Dungeons & Dragons books, according to the affidavit."
If found guilty, Giaume and Dunbar could be charged up with a $10,000 fine and up to six years in prison, in line with Indiana's theft laws. This is a developing story, which will be updated once a verdict has been reached.