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Hampshire police investigate break-in as 60 tennis racquets stolen from Lymington bowls and tennis pavilions

THIEVES stole around 60 tennis racquets worth thousands of pounds after breaking into Lymington’s bowls and tennis pavilions on Monday night.

Criminals forced open the fire door at the rear of the bowls pavilion off Avenue Road at around 11.15pm before breaking into an upstairs office in the tennis pavilion.

Hampshire police are appealing for witnesses after the thieves made off with a bag of children’s racquets and two bags of adult racquets which were stored in the office.

Police confirmed the bag of children’s racquets has since been recovered after thieves dumped it in the park by the tennis pavilion.

Tennis 21 business owner and coach Tom Ellis
Tennis 21 business owner and coach Tom Ellis

Tennis 21 owner and coach Tom Ellis, who has rented court time at the pavilion for the past four years, said the racquets belong to him, and that thieves “bizarrely” ignored a TV and iPad on display in the building.

Mr Ellis told the A&T: “It’s annoying to say the least. The thieves broke in through the bowls club and knocked a key safe off the wall.

“They then accessed the clubhouse and got into the office upstairs in the tennis pavilion where I keep my equipment.

“They took three bags full of tennis racquets. We found one of the bags dumped, probably because it’s children’s racquets, so now we’re missing two bags of adult racquets.

“There were about 24 racquets per bag. Second hand they might be worth £30 to £40 per racquet – brand new, the lot would be worth £4,000 to £5,000.

“I don’t understand why people would want to steal racquets in February – why not when Wimbledon is on and the sport is more popular, if you’re planning to sell them?”

He added: “It’s very frustrating because it’s taken a long time to try to build my business up, through the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis, now this.

Lymington Sports Grounds (Google)
Lymington Sports Grounds (Google)

“It’s annoying for sure. I used to be able to say to my clients that I can provide equipment, but now I will have to change that message, at least for the time being – unless people can donate racquets or bring their own.

“These thieves, bizarrely, didn’t seem to take anything else from the club. They walked past a 50-inch TV and an iPad in the club building, just to get into the office and steal my racquets. It doesn’t seem quite right.”

A Lymington and Pennington Town Council spokesperson confirmed the break-in.

The spokesperson said the criminals then broke into the tennis pavilion and tried to break into a cleaner’s cupboard but failed.

They added: “The doors to the pavilions have now all been secured and the crime has been reported to the police.

“CCTV footage from the building and its surroundings has also been handed to the police.”

A force spokesperson said: “We were called at 11.53am on 6th February to a report that three bags of tennis racquets were stolen from Lymington Tennis Pavilion between 10pm and 11.15pm on 5th February.

“Anyone with information should call 101 quoting reference 44240054132.”

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