Rare card collection taken in game store burglary

A display case sits empty at First Turn Games (3645 First Avenue Southeast) in Cedar Rapids on October 10, 2018.

A burglar didn't target the cash register at a Cedar Rapids game store - but a prized card collection.

The collection that was stolen from First Turn Games just after 3:00 a.m. on October 2 had about 252 cards in it, according to owner Steven Boatwright.

He estimates the collection's value around $100,000.

"A lot of people can equate it to very old baseball cards," Boatwright said Wednesday, eight days after the burglary. "It's all because of how rare that they are. The condition. They are very powerful cards in the game when you're playing them."

"Those two cases were pretty much our pride and joy," he added as he looked at the empty shelves. "Our selection in the Midwest - I mean, it was known."

While the store serves several interests ("Pretty much any type of nerd that you got, we cater to," Boatwright said with a smile), its specialty is Magic: The Gathering - the famous trading card game created in the early 1990s.

Some of the cards - like a Black Lotus that Boatwright had in his collection - can bring in big bucks. But it's about more than money to him.

"A lot of these cards were my initial cards that I've been playing with and had for 20+ years. All of our initial stock was mine."

"Everything that I worked for for years is just gone."

Since the store opened in Cedar Rapids in February 2013, Boatwright has worked to make feel like a second home for game enthusiasts.

"We've been referred to as the 'Cheers' of game stores," he said. "I take personal pride in knowing that and caring about my customers."

Boatwright doesn't believe the person seen entering the store in surveillance footage the night of the incident is one of his regular customers. He estimates their height to be around 6'1" and notes a strange gait when they walk.

The suspect broke in through the back door - which has now been upgraded with better locks. A reward is being offered for information about anyone involved in the burglary.

Cedar Rapids Police haven't made any arrests and are still investigating the incident.

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