French police say they are filing a lawsuit against an international gang of toy thieves specializing in stealing Lego – and they have warned specialist shops and even parents to be aware of the global trade of bricks.
The warning came after police officers arrested three men, one woman and two men, in the process of stealing Lego boxes from a toy store in Yvelines, outside of Paris, last June. The suspects who were questioned, all of whom were from Poland, reportedly admitted to being part of a team that specializes in stealing Lego, which is sought by collectors.
“The Lego community is not just children,” a researcher told the newspaper Le Parisien. “There are a lot of adults playing with it; There are barter and sales on the Internet. There were also people who complained that their house was broken and that Lego was stolen. “
The arrested gang was first reported in November 2019 and again in France in February 2020. “They came to France, set up a hotel in the Paris area, and then began raiding toy shops before returning to Poland to sell their wares. Said the officer.
Gerben van IJken, a Lego expert who advises the online auction platform to buy and sell collectibles, said sales on the French site doubled last year.
“Investing in these parts is not new, but this niche market has reached new heights with the pandemic. People are spending more time at home due to health restrictions, and the game market has exploded. “We usually have more than 1,000 Lego sales a week,” he said.
“There’s always business in Lego because it’s a top-notch toy line and it attracts many adults, but at the same time, a secondhand market is inevitable as the company retracts its collections about two years after it’s released.”
“This phenomenon has exploded in the last eight years because people have realized that they can make money by selling Lego on the Internet.”
Van Ijken demonstrated a Cafe Corner Lego set that cost € 150 when it was launched in stores in 2007 and was sold for € 2,500 last year in its original box.
Lego looting seems to be a global business, according to reports in the US, Canada and Australia, where numerous thefts have been reported in the past five years. In 2005, San Diego police arrested a group of women identified as Lego worth € 200,000.