Stolen Online Game Items Leads to Offline Conviction in the Netherlands

Paul Lilly

The Dutch Supreme Court denied an appeal by a 19-year-old who was convicted of stealing a 13-year-old boy's virtual goods in the online game Runescape and ordered to serve 144 hours of community service. It probably didn't help that the suspect roughed up the 13-year-old and threatened him with a knife until he logged into Runescape and handed over an amulet and a mask, but this case was just as much about the value of virtual goods as it was the violence that took place offline.

The offender's lawyer argued the stolen virtual goods "were neither tangible nor material and, unlike for example electricity, had no economic value," according to an AP report . However, the high court shot down his argument and said the amulet and mask had intrinsic value to the 13-year-old based on "the time and energy" he expended procuring them in Runescape.

This was a two-man operation that involved one of the thieves beating up the 13-year-old Runescape player while another suspect waited online to retrieve the goods he was forced to drop. They were convicted in 2009, though only one of them decided to appeal.

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