Real and virtual worlds have collided before, but I think this is the first time anyone’s been nabbed for actually “stealing” virtual stuff.

The BBC reports that a Dutch teenager (17) has been accused of stealing (with a little help from some friends) about $5,800 worth of virtual furniture from a member of Habbo Hotel. Habbo is an online environment that more-or-less simulates “real life” and has 80 million subscribers world-wide (take that, Wow! ;).

Yes, that’s $5800 in real-world money that someone spent to furnish his “home” or room. Personally, I can think of much better ways to spend that kind of cash.

From the report, it appears this unnamed teen and his friends used a phishing scam to obtain the id and password of the victim, then logged in and helped themselves to the goods.

I can see where they might have a case for the phishing scam. But the theft? Surely Habbo has backups of the online stuff. Couldn’t they restore what was stolen?

The more I think about this, the more bizarre it seems. Are virtual items really the same as material ones, even when purchased for cash? Even when backups could restore what was lost?

I suppose this is what comes of spending real money on make-believe stuff. And yet people will continue to do it. And the world becomes crazier all the time.

Dutch Teen Arrested For Virtual Theft on BBC UK