Why Did Somebody Break Into Panini America?

The main offices of Panini America are located in Irving, Texas. On Monday, there was a mysterious break-in on the premises. Was this a simple break by criminal elements? Or was this related to corporate competition or espionage?

Unfortunately, there is a lot we don’t know right now. But here is everything we currently know about the Panini break-in.

The facts on the Panini break-in

According to the police in Irving, Texas, they received a report of a break-in on Monday afternoon at the Panini offices located at 5325 FAA Blvd, Suite 100. The initial call alerting the police of the incident was received at 1:45 PM on May 29, 2023. The responding officer on the scene was David Zimmerman

One of the most puzzling details regarding the break-in is that the burglars managed to enter the premises without triggering the alarms. Indeed, this may be related to the fact that the Panini office computer system was somehow taken offline, where they remained down for 24 hours, although they may have returned to their operational status.

But a check by Cardlines has revealed that their phone lines remain inoperable as of Tuesday afternoon. All of this indicates that Panini America has yet to return to business as usual. According to some reports, the Panini IT team is expected to work through the weekend to try to get the system up and running. However, even that may be a challenge since some of the servers may be physically missing.

Panini has yet to deliver a full report on what is missing, and their report states that “nothing is missing so far.” However, Panini has yet to execute a full accounting of inventory. We would be surprised if nothing were taken.

Just as disturbing, the police have reported that thousands of dollars worth of damage has been sustained at the site. According to the police report, there was no damage to the outside of the building, but “there is damage to the walls inside.”

More specifically, according to reports, the damage included tearing computers and servers out of the walls. In addition, several offices were trashed, most notably that of Mark Warsop, Senior Vice President of Marketing & Athlete Relations at Panini America.

The investigation is still in its early stages. The Irving Police have only begun to review security footage at the site. They have made no arrests or released the names of any people of interest.

Background on the Panini break-in

There are many reasons someone may want to break into the main offices of Panini America. On the most basic level, the office contains technological equipment and valuables of unknown value.

The public pictures that Panini America posts of their office on Google show it contains large amounts of wax products of considerable importance. The valuable contents of the office would make a break-in worth considering for professional criminals.

However, Panini also has something worth more, at least in the wrong hands. Trade secrets. Panini recently sued its main rivals, Fanatics, for poaching some of its leading executives. The central claim that the Texas-based card company made was that “Panini understands that these individuals are or soon will be working in the exact same position with Fanatics as they previously held with Panini, and will be necessarily using confidential information and trade secrets they learned at Panini to perform their jobs on behalf of Fanatics.”

Therefore, there is clearly an interest in the trade secrets that Panini has amassed over 25 years of dominance in the US trading cards space.

Indeed, Panini has had complete control over the production of licensed basketball and football cards in the United States and across the globe. But Fanatics has obtained those licenses and will replace Panini in that space. In addition, the daughter company of the apparel giant, Topps, already owns the rights to licensed MLB cards.

What does the Panini break-in mean to you?

If you are wondering why you should care, remember that many of us have outstanding orders and redemptions with Panini. Where do they keep these cards that you are ever so patiently awaiting? Of course, why at 5325 FAA Blvd, Suite 100, in Irving, Texas?

Therefore, this may further delay the fulfillment of redemptions, which has become a severe problem for the company in recent years. Indeed, just a few days ago, a Panini customer complained that a card earmarked for redemption he received had turned up on eBay. Other collectors chimed in to say they had similar experiences with the Texas-based company. The break-in and related complications will do little to reestablish the credibility of Panini on redemption-related matters.

Another concern is the extensive database of information on customers, which sits on the Panini America servers. There are very few card enthusiasts who have not ordered, bid, or redeemed cards from Panini at one point or another.

Therefore, our addresses, phone numbers, emails, and credit card information may all be available to the burglars and their associates. This is a cause for concern for everyone in the hobby.

The conspiracy theories about the Panini break-in

It will not surprise you that there are a lot of theories going around on social media and the various message boards regarding the Panini break-in. When it comes to conspiracy theories, there are two significant kinds.

One that places the blame on an expected antagonist. Then, you have the inside job variety. I’ve seen both bandied about. However, the funniest reaction came from a Blowout forum user, who quipped, “Panini states that this will have no negative impact on their customer service since it was terrible already.”

However, another contender is the following comment: “A Panini spokesperson reported the invaders sought to obtain “redemptions” but that the company has a strict policy against ever filling redemption requests under any circumstances.”

There is no evidence to sustain either conspiracy theory. But this break-in did not occur in a vacuum. As mentioned, a story recently broke about the lax security and organization at Panini headquarters regarding promised redemption cards.

Therefore, Panini may have gained a reputation for being unable to protect itself from theft. Admittedly, this isn’t the most exciting explanation, but let’s remember to use Occam’s razor for the smoothest shave. The most straightforward answer may not be our favorite, but it’s often correct.  

The final word on the Panini break-in

We did not expect the final years of Panini’s dominance in the hobby to end quietly or serenely. But with two years left, we are amazed at the string of incidents and unpleasantness accompanying the empire’s collapse in Irving, Texas.

The exact link between all of these incidents is unclear. It may very well be that the poaching of employees, the mysterious appearance of redemption cards on the market, and this break-in are unconnected. If this were a movie, obviously, this would all be part of some grand plot. But the reality is usually less satisfying.

Having said that, the overall effect of all these incidents is disturbing. It paints a picture of a company that has lost control of its security and its operations. Whether this results from internal ineptitude, a targeted campaign by outside forces, or just a string of bad luck, it looks terrible for Panini and the hobby.

We hope no sensitive information or valuable cards were taken in this burglary. However, if they were, it behooves the folks at Panini to make it right. As long as they are still operating, they have to take care of business and their customers.