Thief steals rare comics from a local store at high collectible prices

FORT WAYNE, Indiana (WANE) – Todd Berndt, owner of Berndt Comics, has been collecting comics and action figures for 40 years.

“When I started collecting, I was into superheroes,” says Berndt.

Over the years, Berndt said he’s seen the world of comics change and grow into an extremely valuable hobby.

Unfortunately, any business that deals in collectibles also has to deal with people trying to steal valuable items, and Berndt Comics is no exception.

On Sunday, a thief broke into protective sleeves at the store, located on Coliseum Boulevard at the Vintage Treasures Antique Mall, and made off with thousands of dollars worth of comics.

One of the stolen comics, a graded issue of X-Men #95, is worth about $800 alone.

Berndt Comics said that this graded edition of X-Men #95, worth approximately $800, was one of the items stolen.

Berndt said he’s dealt with clients in the past who tried to steal small items, but nothing of that magnitude.

“[I’ve seen] smaller people trying to take books, maps and the like, but nothing on this scale where they actually broke in and took mass amounts,” Berndt said.

In addition to Berndt Comics; Sport Spot and Summit Sports, Comics & Games, two other collectible stores in Fort Wayne; have dealt with similar issues in the past.

Sport Spot owner Ron Straessle said he’s “beefed up everything” in terms of safety measures at the store.

Summit Sports floor manager Brad Bohland said the store tries to keep high-value items out of reach to deter theft.

However, according to Berndt, security measures are not foolproof.

“We have a little bit of everything, but there’s only so much you can do,” said Berndt.

The recent theft sheds light on a massive spike in the prices of popular collectibles, including comics, sports cards and video games.

Berndt said that certain comics, like Action Comics #1, the first comic book issue starring Superman, have increased in value by millions of dollars since he started collecting comics.

“You have people who are hardcore collectors. They have investment people who are there for investment purposes,” said Berndt. “Like anything else — baseball cards, coins, artwork — you have to put your money somewhere, so if you have disposable income, you can throw it somewhere else.”

Another stolen item, a graded issue of Batman #423, is valued at approximately $450.

In 2021 eBay released a State of Trading Cards report highlighting the rise in popularity of certain collectibles.

From 2020 to 2021, eBay reported that the trading cards category on its site grew by 142%, with over 4 million more cards sold on eBay in 2021 than in 2020.

“I didn’t see that [explosion] coming, but it came at a time when there were a lot of rookies in different sports,” said Straessle, whose business is primarily focused on sports cards.

Regardless of the level of hobbies, Berndt said thefts like Sunday’s can do irreparable damage to small businesses like Berndt Comics.

“You can go to eBay any day, click and buy,” Berndt said. “But finding them in the wild or buying them from another collector is quite difficult.”

Bohland said his store has a list of stolen items from Berndt Comics to spread the word about what was stolen so people can look out for them.

Above all, Berndt hopes that he will get his collectibles back.

“I really appreciated some of the books. I’ve had them since I was a little kid,” Berndt said. “They are still a part of my collection or a part of me until I sell them to someone else or give them to another collector.” Thief steals rare comics from a local store at high collectible prices

Dais Johnston

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