By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.
It’s the age of iPads, wi-fi enabled games, and anything with a touchscreen. But when it comes to toys, the humble Lego brick has not only endured in its popularity, it has also survived and thrived against the odds.
So much has the little toy bricks’ popularity subsisted that now, thanks to its high price and the ease of reselling them online, stealing them has suddenly surged into a lucrative trade.
On November 29, 2018, two thieves raided an Adelaide toy store, hitting the same shop twice in one night and stealing an estimated $10,000 worth of Lego.
In the early hours of Thursday, two male suspects broke into the Laygo toy store, situated in St Marys in the south of Adelaide and stripped the shop of valuable stock. In fact, between 3:30am and 6:00am, security cameras captured them entering the store twice in their pursuit of the popular children’s toy.
The thieves robbed Lego sets valued at around $10,000, along with cash from the till.
Southern District Police were soon on the scene, investigating the break-in where it was revealed the Lego bandits left a trail of bricks in their wake.
A statement from the police also revealed that the men loaded the stock into a yellow Mazda van before fleeing, which was stolen from Barnetts Road in St Marys.
Owner Stripped of Valuable Stock in Lead-Up to Christmas for Third Year in a Row
Lay Go owner Steve Campbell noticed the mess made at his shop on a surveillance app.
Speaking of the break-in, he said it was the third year in a row that his store on South Road had been targeted by thieves in the lead-up to Christmas.
On this occasion, Mr Campbell said the bandits “pretty much cleaned out” the Lego store during the raids and “emptied and destroyed his shelves”.
“They went straight to the alarm and smashed it like crazy,” Mr Campbell said.
“Before they came in… There was Lego all over the floor that they tipped out and sets all over the floor and alarm smashed, boxes smashed, printer smashed.”
According to the security camera footage, the pair utilised a crow bar to smash their way into the shop, before kicking down the door and making a getaway with 100 sets of Lego. They were in the store for about five minutes on both occasions.
The robbers stole sets off the shelf and left a trail of them from the shop area to the back door, and just left them.
Mr Campbell said one of the Lego sets taken included a couple worth about $400.
Thieves Believed to be Selling Goods Online
According to Mr Campbell, the two suspects are likely selling the goods online.
“You only have to look on Gumtree and see that there’s $200 sets being sold for $60 and people are very happy to snap it up,” he said.
Mr Campbell also expressed himself as being “gutted” at the break-in just three weeks out of Christmas, particularly as it would take time to replace the stolen goods.
“By the time the insurance gets onto it and by the time I place the replenishment orders with head office in Sydney, I won’t get the extra stock before Christmas and that’s a shame because that’s the period of the year where you do most of your trade.”
Nevertheless, he assured he would keep his doors open.
“I’ll open with empty shelves, but we’ll see how it goes. Nothing is going to spoil Christmas,” he said.
The Phenomena of Stealing Lego: Why Thieves Love the Popular Children’s Toy
Lego may seem like a humble children’s toy. However, with the bricks’ high price and the ease of reselling them online, stealing them from toy stores has now become a profitable trade.
The problem continues today and involves nations worldwide, and this is significantly because there is a black market for them. Lego is a hot item due to its universal popularity and relative cost from retail markets. With no serial numbers, the products are virtually untraceable and thus easily sold.
At the end of 2016, Andrew Masterson investigated into the matter for the Sydney Morning Herald. His research highlighted that Australia was now besieged by Lego bandits, with many stores enduring break-ins and theft. In fact, one store in Seymore, Melbourne got robbed of $15,000 worth of the toy in just a week.
While this may conjure a confused reaction given that Lego now seems outdated in the face of today’s children so obsessed with electronic gadgets, it turns out they are perfect for robbers looking to make quick cash.
Other than being difficult to trace and able to be sold online at high prices, there are quite a few AFOLs – Adult Fans of Lego – around the world. This fandom is willing to pay for their Lego of choice and hand over the big bucks for it.
For example, a quick search on eBay shows that Lego Star Wars Sets are sold for thousands of dollars. Evidently, Lego holds its value thoroughly.
The Crime of Break, Enter and Commit Serious Indictable Offence
In NSW, it is an offence to break into a house or premises and steal property or carry out any other serious indictable offence. This is understood as a “break and enter” offence and covered in the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).
A person can be charged with the offence of break, enter and commit serious indictable offence if, for example, they break a gate, door or window, enter a house or premises and commit a serious indictable offence.
A serious indictable offence is any offence which carries a jail term of at least five years. Examples include stealing, sexual assault or larceny.
Accordingly, this offence has the potential to result in heavy penalties.
The Law on Break, Enter and Commit Serious Indictable Offences in NSW
Anyone who commits this offence will face a maximum penalty of up to 14-years imprisonment.
A person will be guilty of the offence of break, enter and commit serious indictable offence under section 112 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) if the police an prove each of the following elements:
- The accused person ‘broke’ and ‘entered’ a house or building; and
- After entering, the accused person commits a serious indictable offence, such as a larceny offence.
So, what does ‘break’ and ‘enter’ mean? ‘breaking’ can simply include un-latching a window or door that was already open. It can also mean the opening of a door or window that wasn’t locked but closed.
‘Entering’ simply means to enter the premises.
This offence can also be committed by being inside a premise or building where a serious indictable offence is committed therein before the person breaks outside.
Some defences to this charge include duress or necessity, mistaken identity or where there was authority to enter the premises.