It seems fitting that after Christopher Cline’s $65,000 video game collection was stolen from his Tacoma storage locker in August, he would take inspiration from a video game.
It was a quote from the puzzle game “Portal 2” that resonated with him: “When life gives you lemons, don’t make lemonade. Make life take the lemons back.”
Five months later, Cline has done that.
Cline says the original games are gone but he’s rebuilt his 1,500-game collection, thanks to friends, gifts and insurance money. It took about five weeks.
“Every day, I had to go to Amazon and eBay and buy back more,” said Cline, 27.
Many of the items bought by the insurance company came in unopened packages, ideal for collecting.
“I believe every single item has been recovered,” Cline said of his collection. “It’s grown since the theft, and I did not at all expect that to happen.”
Part of what allowed Cline to recoup his collection so quickly was the surveillance footage from the Central Tacoma storage company. It helped substantiate the theft and land money from his insurance company, he said.
The footage showed the burglar making off with box after box from his unit, Cline said. The games and movies had been packed in boxes from Cline’s father’s job, which made them easy to identify in the footage.
“You can see the perpetrators, the prime suspects, holding those boxes,” he said. “In one sequence, he even pulls out a couple of the games and looks at them.”
It turns out that many units in the facility were hit, Cline said, and the person with the unit next to his ended up being the prime suspect.
Cline said police told him the man was in custody on other charges.
No charges have been filed in the burglary of Cline’s storage unit, Tacoma police spokeswoman Loretta Cool said.
Some of Cline’s personal items that weren’t worth reselling were in the unit next door, he said. The nostalgic value of the Atari 2600 and Sega Genesis systems and games he played during his childhood are gone, though, likely sold or stashed elsewhere.
As for Cline’s rebuilt collection, it’s stored in a safer location with an alarm system. And every item is now individually cataloged and insured.
“I am taking extreme precaution to make sure my stuff does not get stolen again,” Cline said.