How the One Piece Manga Heist Went WrongS

There are 64 volumes of popular Japanese manga One Piece. Each copy is about half an inch thick and weighs 5.30 ounces. All 64 volumes stacked are over three feet high and weigh nearly 22 pounds. You'd be insane to try to steal all 64 volumes at once.

But that's exactly what one man did.

One evening on Dec. 23 last year, a 26-year-old man entered a Shizuoka Prefecture bookstore, carrying a large travel bag over his shoulder, reported the Yomiuri Shimbun. The two clerks working at the time thought he seemed suspicious, but, being a national holiday, the store was busy and packed with shoppers.

It was until the next morning that the staff noticed the damage: One Piece vol. 1 to vol. 64 were systematically swiped from the shelves. The staff checked the security camera, discovering the 26-year-old man filling his bag with the One Piece manga ten volumes at a time. The footage then showed him leaving the shop in a hurry, comics in tow.

The police were able to track the man down. On Jan. 17, he was arrested for shoplifting.

"I was planning to re-sell them", the young man apparently told the police. According to authorities, the value of all 64 volumes is the equivalent of ¥26,000 (US$340) retail. Used book stores would pay around ¥23,000 (US$300) for them.

"Even at a used bookstore, these could be sold quickly," explained a book retailer in Shizuoka City. "They're good as new, and even if the used book shop paid nearly full price, it would still turn a profit." Moreover, One Piece is the biggest manga in Japan at the moment, which not only makes it an easy sell, but an easy target.

At this same bookshop, copies of Hunter x Hunter as well as other comics were stolen during mid-December. Police are investigating whether this 26-year-old is behind those incidents.

While many items at "recycle shops" are sold by individuals who purchased them legally, it's not uncommon for stolen comic books an video games often end up on shelves—much like stolen items end up at pawn shops in the West. But here, the heist wasn't diamonds or stereo equipment, but comic books.


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(Top photo: Not acutal crime scene photo | やらおん)