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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Wild $300K Lego Heist Foiled by Retail Task Force

Legos are everywhere these days, including criminal enterprises. Earlier in the week, California’s Organized Retail Crime Taskforce performed a series of raids against an illegal fencing operation spread across four buildings in LA and Orange counties. During those raids, authorities found a collection of Lego sets estimated to be worth $300,000 overall.

Various items were stolen from popular retailers like Target and Lowe’s, but the Legos were said to make up the bulk of stolen product. According to CBS News, there were so many boxes that they were lined up across the walls of the buildings, and in some cases, were able to touch the ceiling. (As an ex-retail worker, lemme tell ya: nightmare scenario having to pull from the middle section of those stacks.) Lego sets can get pretty pricey the more elaborate they are, and boxes can take up a lot of space, so it’s easy to image how packed those buildings must’ve been.

Four arrests were made in connection to the fencing ring, whose ages range from 35 to 47 years old. The suspects were then charged with organized retail theft, grand theft, and conspiracy to commit a crime. Per the LA Times, the quartet would go from store to store, with two of them swiping limited edition box sets before stashing them across their various safehouses before selling them in-person or online.

If you weren’t aware, this has actually been going on for quite some time. In December 2023, Inside Edition published a piece on what’s effectively the Lego black market, wherein thieves stole Legos during the holidays and sell them for a decent price, particularly the limited edition sets. A Lego store in Las Vegas got hit four times within a month of opening, and the store owner at the time said $2,000 worth of product was stolen.

Similar theft rings exist for stuff like Magic: The Gathering and Pokémon, so it’s not too surprising to hear this is happening with Lego. Some retailers are trying to add some friction to the process, mainly by locking the toys behind a case or wrapping them in a security bind you have to remove directly at the register.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.

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