Oregon Police Make Huge Lego Bust

Oregon Police Make Huge Lego Bust

An Oregon man’s Lego business is in ruins after a police raid over a holiday weekend in Eugene. According to the Springfield Police Department’s Facebook page, a three-month investigation into a robbery at the business led them to a business called Brick Builders, where they found more than 4,000 allegedly stolen, and often rare, Lego sets worth more than $200,000.

Brick Builders was a third-party Lego store that sold sets and individual pieces to collectors. Lego sets sold at high prices and became popular enough that there were many independent stores in the United States.

Brick Builders opened in 2017 and has built a reputation as a place to pick up hard-to-find kits. Some of that inventory has been stolen from local stores like Target and Barnes & Noble, according to Springfield police.

Cops and Legos
Photo from the Springfield Police Department via their Facebook page.

America is in the throes of a moral panic over shoplifting. In recent years, retailers themselves have reported that shoplifting is on the rise in their stores, but the reality is hard to quantify. Whatever the actual numbers, fear of shoplifting has led police to focus on the issue. That’s what happened in Springfield, Oregon.

Most major retailers have loss prevention professionals who monitor the store for thefts and investigate crimes. They are not police officers themselves, but they often work with them. According to the Springfield Police Department, Operation Brick Builders began after they teamed up with loss prevention personnel from Target, Fred Meyer and Barnes & Noble. They noticed that people were stealing a lot of Lego sets from those stores and tracked them to Brick Builders where they allegedly unloaded the merchandise.

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Photo from the Springfield Police Department via their Facebook page.

According to cops, the thieves were selling the large and expensive sets to Brick Builders employees, often for a fraction of their retail value. “This store had everything you could want in Lego, but you had to pay top dollar. I only stumped them on two pieces when I tried to finish the sets. Any Lego fan could find a set that would make them drool,” one commenter on the Lego subreddit said in response to the news. “BUT he was very difficult to deal with. I’m a little surprised by that though. I don’t know how he thought he wouldn’t get caught.”

The cops posted the haul on Facebook, posing in front of a mountain of Legos. The store owner and an employee were charged with organized robbery and theft type I, receiving stolen goods. The maximum penalties and scope of both charges were recently increased in Oregon, partly in response to concerns about an increase in thefts in the region.

The organized theft charge alone carries a possible two-year prison sentence. “We all feel the impact of organized retail theft through the increased cost of items we purchase for our families,” Springfield police said in a statement on their Facebook page.