California thieves targeting Lego stores for black market deals: 'Lego Larceny'

Legos have apparently emerged as the latest hot target for California theft rings. 

Two suspects have allegedly stolen more than $100,000 worth of Lego merchandise from six different Southern California stores over the last two months, the L.A. Times reported. One store owner, Whittier resident Katie Leuschner, told the paper that the thieves took approximately $10,000 of product from her store.

Leuschner noted that while she and her husband had seen shoplifters pocket mini figurines before, she was caught off-guard by the smash-and-grab conducted by the two suspects back in May. Reportedly, one broke through the glass door during the early hours with a trash bag to steal mini-figures while the second acted as the getaway driver.

RELATED: Suspected Lego thieves arrested, nearly 3,000 boxes recovered

She explained that this was because of the high resale value for rarer Legos.

"We're a specialty store for people trying to find the Lego set from when they were younger — the things that we do have can't be easily replenished," Leuschner said. "They're not stealing big box sets. They're stealing mini figures, and those individual guys go for $500 to $600 apiece, so they're easily stolen and resold for a quick profit."

While Leuschner and other Lego store owners filed police reports, they have yet to hear back about arrests. In the meantime, they have taken to warning other store owners that have yet to be targeted.

Two people from a separate crime ring were arrested on June 5 after police witnessed one stealing Lego products from Target stores and depositing them in the home of the other suspect. After obtaining a warrant, police discovered over 2,800 boxes of stolen Legos with each item worth between $20 to over $1,000. During the search, police also witnessed potential buyers coming to purchase the stolen items.

Four other suspects were also arrested in April after possessing over $300,000 worth of stolen Lego sets.

RELATED: Multiple Lego, figurine stores broken into across SoCal

The problem is not new nor unique to California. As far back as 2018, an Oregon man was arrested for possessing approximately $50,000 worth of stolen Legos in his home. 

By December 2023, Inside Edition had dubbed the trend "Lego Larceny."

Retail theft in California has become a bigger concern in recent years, to the point that the Californians for Safer Communities reported collecting more than 900,000 signatures in support of Proposition 47 reform on the November ballot. Proposition 47 was originally passed in 2014 and downgraded several crimes, including shoplifting, grand theft and receiving stolen property, from felonies to misdemeanors if the amount stolen is worth less than $950.

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