Magic the Gathering cards may be a fantasy game to some, but the reality is they're worth a lot of money. One rare card is worth up to $50,000, but to one Minnesota player, they're all priceless.
Jeremy Bylander estimated he owns 150,000 Magic cards, and he brings many of them to battle at Level Up Games in South St. Paul. But he recently had about 3,000 of his most valuable Magic cards stolen.
"I'm not really emotional," he said. "I just thought it was a huge inconvenience."
Earlier this month, someone broke into Bylander's home in Oak Park Heights and stole 3 boxes of Magic cards worth an estimated $10,000 to $15,000, along with a couple of computer monitors, a headset and other electronics. Bylander sent an email to the local game shops with an itemized list of the stolen cards, in case someone tried to sell them.
The staff at Level Up Games wasn't expecting the thieves to bring the stolen card to Bylander's favorite shop, just 20 minutes from his house. But last Friday, police say Daniel Franco brought in one of Bylander's stolen boxes and tried to sell the valuable cards.
"I saw the box and the Japanese cards and put two-and-two together," said Dylan Myers of Level Up Games. "Oh, this is Jeremy's collection."
Myers quietly signaled Bylander, who happened to be playing the game in the room next door. He stalled Franco at the counter while another employee called police.
"I was ecstatic," Bylander said. "I thought I'd never see it again, to be honest."
Franco is charged with receiving stolen property. He was booked into the Dakota County Jail on $30,000 bail.
"Sounds like he's made a lot of bad choices in his life," Bylander said. "I don't hate people. Seems like he just makes bad choices."
Down in Rochester, Minn., there's another case where someone stole Magic cards worth about $1,600 after the victim met the suspect through an ad on Craigslist.