French police are building a case against international gang of LEGO thieves targeting highly valued sets that sell for thousands of pounds
- Police building case against international gang of toy thieves targeting Lego
- Three people from Poland were arrested in June 2020 while trying to steal sets
- French police have now warned specialist shops and parents to remain vigilant
French police say they have started to build a case against an international gang of thieves that target toys after three people were arrested while stealing Lego.
A woman and two men, who were in the middle of stealing boxes of Lego from a shop in Yvelines, near Paris, were arrested in June 2020.
The three people, all from Poland, reportedly admitted to be part of a specialist international Lego stealing gang.
Now, police in France are warning shops and parents to be on their guard, with some Lego sets being highly sought after by collectors.
French police say they have started to build a case against an international gang of thieves that target toys after three people were arrested while stealing Lego (stock image)
Speaking to the French newspaper Le Parisien, an investigator looking into the international gang of thieves said: ‘The Lego community isn’t just made up of children.
‘There are numerous adults who play with it; there are swaps and sales on the internet. We’ve also had people complaining their homes have been broken into and Lego stolen.’
The investigator said that the trio had initially been reported to police back in November 2019 and again in February 2020 before finally being arrested.
Explaining how the three thieves operated, the investigator said they would book into a hotel in Paris and then work to raid toy stores across the city before returning to Poland to sell the Lego sets.
A woman and two men, who were in the middle of stealing boxes of Lego from a shop in Yvelines, near Paris, were arrested in June 2020, which has prompted French police to warn specialist shops to be careful (stock image)
The trio arrested in Paris aren’t the only case of Lego being targeted by thieves.
Stores in Victoria and New South Wales, Australia, were victims of thieves who had been targeting Lego sets and made off with almost £17,000 of the bricks.
Also in 2014, four people were arrested in Phoenix, Arizona, on suspicion of stealing Lego from a toy store.
Similar incidents were also recorded in 2017 when 2,000 sets bound for children’s hospitals and charities in the UK were taken and in 2018 when the home of a 20-year-old Lego enthusiast was targeted and most of his 14-year-old collection was taken.
A Lego specialist who advises online auctions on collectibles, Gerben van Ijken, said that sales of Lego have doubled on the French eBay.
The investigator said that the trio – two men and a woman – had initially been reported to police back in November 2019 and again in February 2020 before finally being arrested
He told The Guardian: ‘Investing in these pieces isn’t new but this niche market has reached new heights with the pandemic.
‘People have more time at home because of the health restrictions and the game market has exploded.’
Another reason for the explosion in Lego sales is that people over the last eight years have discovered the huge resale value of sets online, van Ijken said.
One example that he cited was a set that originally cost €150 in 2007 but has recently resold online for €2,500.
As recently as last December, a thief in California allegedly attempting to make off with $1,000 worth of Lego sets was apprehended by undercover cops dressed as Santa and an elf.
Riverside Police Department said the officers were conducting a holiday enforcement program dubbed ‘Santa’s Intervention’.
The Santa’s Intervention program was conducted in response to retail theft dramatically increasing during the holiday shopping season and was a proactive approach toward such crimes, police said.