Graphics cards appear to be the next hot ticket for thieves. Chinese news portal XChinese reports that a group of bandits stole video cards worth about $8,000 from an Internet cafe in Hangzhou, the capital of China’s Zhejiang province, and police have yet to identify them.
The story comes just months after a group of smugglers tried to smuggle 300 graphics processors across the Pacific. The shopkeeper did not say exactly which cards were stolen, but said each was worth about 7,000 yuan ($1,094). In total, the store owner said he lost 50,000 yuan ($7,812). Given how high the prices of GPUs are now, it is impossible to determine which cards were stolen based on the price.
One of the thieves contacted the owner about renting the cafe. When they met the owner, they used a fake ID and wore a mask, citing pandemic restrictions. Once inside, the thief asked the owner to bring them a garbage bag so they could leave the café alone. Once left alone, they were able to carry off seven video cards and motherboards.
The thief told the shopkeeper that a friend of his would come into the cafe, but it is not yet clear if the robbery was a group robbery or not. Police have not identified the thief or made any arrests.
Video card theft may be the new normal, given the state of the graphics processor market. Huge pandemic demand, exacerbated by cryptocurrency miners, has raised video card prices to unprecedented heights. In mid-2021, it’s not uncommon for a mid-range GPU to cost more than $1,000. At high levels, you can expect to pay more than $2,000.
And there is no shortage of people willing to take advantage of the demand. A market analysis earlier this year showed that scalpers brought in $61.5 million, or $15.2 million in revenue in 2020. Buyers are willing to pay for the latest graphics cards not only for gaming, but also because of the value of various cryptocurrencies nowadays. Nvidia alone said it receives more than $400 million annually from cryptocurrency miners.
This demand has prompted many chip vendors to try to bring more products to market. However, as some analysts point out, cryptocurrency devaluation and falling demand could create problems for this coveted hardware.