Southern California’s black market for stolen LEGO sets is booming

The black market for stolen LEGO sets is reportedly booming in Southern California, following a recent spate of thefts from local stores.

Brick Fanatics recently reported on the news that the Los Angeles Police Department had arrested two alleged suspects in connection with nearly 3,000 stolen LEGO sets. The models were discovered in the residence of a Long Beach resident, with potential buyers for the sets having turned up during the raid.

The theft of so many LEGO models is just the latest in recent series of related crimes, with many high-priced sets proving too tempting to thieves looking to make a quick buck. According to the Los Angeles Times, a string of similar crimes have been reported in Southern California, with stolen items regularly appearing on eBay and Facebook Marketplace.

Image: LAPD

For instance, six heists have been carried out at Bricks & Minifigs stores in the area since April 2024, with the retailer specialising in rare and valuable LEGO items. “You can’t steal a 1960’s Mustang and hide that,” said Katie Leuschner, owner of the Whittier Boulevard store, “but you can hide a minifigure and stockpile them for years, and they’re only going up in value.”

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Mere days after the Bricks & Minifigs thefts, the California Highway Patrol arrested four suspects found in possession of stolen LEGO sets worth $300,000. The models were believed to have been taken from Target stores and stashed in safehouses in L.A. and Orange County.

Image: LAPD

Despite sometimes popping up online, tracking down stolen LEGO sets can prove to be a real challenge for their original owners. “They’re not being sold there in a super obvious way,” said Shauna Garcia, owner of the Bricks & Minifigs Ontario store. “I’m keeping an eye out for lots and lots of minifigures.”

The store lost around 500 minifigures when it was raided, with the items having a combined market value of $7,000. Weeks after the theft, Shauna was then offered thousands of LEGO sets by an unnamed individual who, according to the LAPD, allegedly operated the theft ring that stored the stolen sets in Long Beach.

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Author Profile

Matt Yeo
From video game journalism to kids’ publishing, I’ve been there, seen it, done it and worn the T-shirt. I was also the editor of the first-ever official LEGO magazine way back when, LEGO Adventures. I have a passion for movies, comic books, tech and video games, with a wallet that’s struggling to keep up with my LEGO set wish list.

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Matt Yeo

From video game journalism to kids’ publishing, I’ve been there, seen it, done it and worn the T-shirt. I was also the editor of the first-ever official LEGO magazine way back when, LEGO Adventures. I have a passion for movies, comic books, tech and video games, with a wallet that’s struggling to keep up with my LEGO set wish list.

One thought on “Southern California’s black market for stolen LEGO sets is booming

  • 28/06/2024 at 16:41
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    hi am a father of 5 with 3 sons we bin collecting and building Lego sets for years an spent a lot of money over years aswell my home got broken into recently an all mine an my son’s Lego got stolen so I get this story if you no any organisation that can help send me any free Lego sets it would be greatfull an helpfull anb wonderful aswell thanks

    Reply

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