British Columbia

Lego heists fuelled by online demand for pricey toy sets, say police

Everything might not be awesome, police are warning parents searching for Lego deals online this Christmas.

'Lego is a high-priced item and it is a popular item during Christmas'

This re-creation of the arrests was created by the children of West Vancouver Police Const. Jeff Wood. (West Vancouver Police)

Everything might not be awesome, police are warning parents searching for Lego deals online this Christmas.

The warning comes after the arrest of one man in two recent heists in Squamish, B.C., north of Vancouver.

Officers speculate strong demand at Christmas time for the pricey toys was behind the crimes, and warned shoppers to watch out for stolen products, particularly when shopping online on sites like Craigslist and Kijiji.

"Lego is a high-priced item and it is a popular item during Christmas, and we understand that parents with kids want to save money, but at the same time they need to be aware that some items on Craigslist are stolen and they need to be cautious," said Const. Jeff Wood.

"If it seems too good to be true, it probably is ... and if you do suspect somebody is selling stolen goods, contact police immediately." he said.

Alleged thief arrested twice

In the first incident on Nov. 16, a West Vancouver police officer stopped a vehicle speeding in a construction zone on Highway 99, and noticed something suspicious.

"There was a large amount of Lego in the back of the vehicle in duffel bags and plastic containers," said Woods.

The driver was arrested after a bit of detective work determined the Lego — worth about $2,500 — had recently been stolen from a major retail store in Squamish about 60 kilometres away.

In the second incident on Nov. 24, a retailer in Squamish called RCMP to report a Lego heist in progress.

When police arrived, the retailer told them the thieves had transferred the Lego from a shopping cart to a getaway car and fled.

Police soon stopped the vehicle on Highway 99 near Finch Drive and arrested the driver and his passenger and seized a number of Lego boxes.

The driver was the same man arrested for the same crime a week before.

Both were arrested for theft under $5,000. Charge recommendations have been forwarded to Crown counsel, but have not been laid yet, so identities have not been revealed.

Surging demand

The B.C. thefts are not isolated incidents. Lego's popularity has surged in recent years.

The massively popular Lego Movie – which had a worldwide domestic gross of over $468 million – has helped bolster sales, alongside licensed play sets based on popular franchises like The Avengers and Star Wars.

Prices have ballooned too, especially for intricate sets, such as a Lego Star Wars Death Star set priced at $599 before tax.

Hamilton police are still piecing together clues after three thieves ran off with $20,000 in Lego from a Toys "R" Us in Stoney Creek last month.

Earlier this year, San Diego police busted a major toy theft ring, which included $100,000 in stolen goods, including Lego, ABC News reported.

Four people were also charged in Phoenix, Arizona earlier this year when police discovered $244,000 in stolen Lego.


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