Pickleball paddle thefts in Maryland, Virginia caught on camera

Store owners are frustrated with people stealing thousands of dollars in pickleball paddles. “I just don’t understand,” one said.

ROCKVILLE, Md. — Is there a pickleball paddle theft ring targeting businesses across the country?

Some business owners say yes.

The owner of Tennis Topia in Rockville, Maryland says pickleball paddles worth $4,500 were stolen from his business on April 26.

“I’ve owned Tennis Topia for a little over a year now and never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d have to lock up the pickleball paddles,” Marco Impeduglia said in an interview with WUSA9 Thursday after -noon.

The thefts were first reported by Rockville Nights blogger Robert Dyer. It happened shortly before 2:30 p.m. at the store on Rockville Pike, according to Rockville City Police.

The thefts were filmed by store surveillance cameras.

“You can see them slowly take a handful of paddles, in eight minutes they have stolen about 25 to 30 paddles,” Impeduglia said.

It turns out Tennis Topia wasn’t the only business hit by pickleball racket thieves.

On April 23, the owner of the Alpine ski store in Fairfax City was also hit by thieves.

Tyler Bunch, the owner, says the thieves stole three or four pickleball paddles. Surveillance footage from the store shows two women removing the paddles from the rack and hiding them in their clothing.

Bunch said he didn’t know that right away. Then, on April 24, he received a text message from another business owner, warning him of a group targeting pickleball paddles in stores across the country.

So I received this message today from a representative telling us about a series of pickle racket thefts that started up north and…

Published by Alpine Ski Shop on Wednesday April 24, 2024

He says one of his employees mentioned that a group matching the description was in the store the day before.

“I went to the videotape and watched it and sure enough, it was exactly as the warning text was written,” Bunch said.

He and Impeduglia say they believe the thieves are part of the same group that has targeted other businesses across the country.

In Colorado, more than $30,000 worth of pickleball equipment was stolen from three Game-Set-Match, Inc. tennis and pickleball chains.

Adam Burbary, the store’s owner, told CBS News that both groups of thieves have visited each location multiple times, a total of six to eight times since the start of the new year. The largest theft occurred at the Centennial location when they stole 45 pickleball paddles in less than 10 minutes.

“We have footage, it’s pretty brazen and they don’t even care if it’s filmed or if it’s photographed,” Burbary said.

Another pickleball store in Las Vegas had pickleball paddles worth about $5,000 stolen.

“I feel like it’s the same thing. It’s just trying to figure out their end game of selling paddles that fell off a truck…I just don’t get it,” said Bunch said.

Paddles stolen from Fairfax City and Rockville cost between $150 and $300 per paddle.

“I never thought there was a black market for pickleball paddles,” Bunch said.

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