Police in San Diego have foiled a $100,000 crime ring â€“ that specialised in Lego theft.
Five men are believed to have been part of the scheme, which involved walking into a Toys R Us, loading up shopping carts with Lego items, and then leaving the stores.
The gangâ€™s ploy was foiled after they were caught on a surveillance camera making off with their toys. In addition to the Lego products, police said the organised crime ring had also been stealing Disney Frozen items.
Local ABC station 10News reported that three suspects â€“ Liliana Marquez, 29, Juan Camacho, 26, and Elizabeth Bojorquez, 21, had been arrested, while a fourth was already in custody. The fifth member was on the run, police said.
It is unclear what the gang planned to do with their Lego stash, although there have been a spate of other Lego thefts in the past couple of years, where the masterminds sold the sets online.
In August 2014, Phoenix police arrested four people on suspicion of stealing Lego sets â€“ again from Toys R Us. Officers recovered $200,000 worth of Lego products from one of the suspectâ€™s houses, AZ Central reported at the time. The gang had been fencing the sets to an Arizona man who then sold them on the internet.
In the same month a woman was charged with stealing $60,000 worth of Lego sets and attempting to sell them on eBay.
The Lego-thieving ruse is not restricted to the US. In June 2014, toy stores in the Australian states of Victoria and New South Wales were targeted by â€œprofessional thievesâ€, according to The Age. Some $30,000 (AUD) of Legos were stolen over a period of several months.