GASTONIA, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Gastonia Police say two men stole thousands of dollars’ worth of Lego sets from the Target on Cox Road Wednesday morning.
The big-box retail store is the latest business to be hit recently by thieves looking to cash in on the high-dollar toy sets.
“It’s one of those things where you are like, ‘You should always listen to your gut feeling,’ you know?” said Jimmy Woody, owner of Back in Time Collectibles.
When four people entered Woody’s collectible store in Gastonia trying to sell Lego sets, his gut suspected something was off. But he bought them.
But what he didn’t know at the time was that they were stolen.
Shortly after the sale, he got a phone call from a man asking if he had specific sets in stock. It turns out, they were stolen from the caller’s house.
“I was like, ‘What kind of stuff did you have?’ Woody asked the caller. “And he started telling me specifics and I was like, ‘Yeah, man. I think I have your stuff.’ So, we’ve had people bring in stolen stuff before.”
While thieves are trying to sell Woody their stolen merchandise, national retailers like Target are the ones being stolen from.
Connecting the Legos
Gastonia Police say the suspects involved with the theft there Wednesday appear to have committed the same crime at other stores.
This summer, Hickory Police say a suspect stole two shopping carts full of Lego Star Wars sets. Target Loss Prevention reported the toys were valued at $2,000.
In April, police in Overland Park, Kansas, searched for two people who stole thousands of dollars’ worth of Lego sets, again from Target.
In Franklin Tennessee, police are seeking to identify shoplifters accused of stealing six Lego sets from the local Target.
“It’s pretty crazy to think about,” said Charlie Watson, ambassador for the N.C. Lego Users Group.
He says the group’s purpose is to spread the love of Lego. Since the pandemic, the hobby of collecting and building has gained popularity — and so has the price of the sets.
No mercy for stolen Lego loot
Watson says he is not surprised Lego has become a target of retail theft.
“I don’t think those doing all of these thefts are actual fans of Lego,” he explained. “I think it can potentially give fans of Lego a bad name because some people may think, ‘Well, they are out there stealing that.’ But I don’t really think that they are actually fans. They are just trying to make money out of nothing, and I really hate that.”
Online retailer eBay has made it easy for fans to sell or trade Lego sets. Right now, a “Star Wars” Death Star is listed for sale for nearly $2,700.
“If it seems too good to be true, it probably is, and I won’t even go out about that route,” Watson said.
After Woody lost nearly $700 from that bogus sale about a year and a half ago, he says he changed his store policy.
“We now have everybody fill out a form and it basically says that if it comes back stolen and we figure out that it is stolen, we are going to prosecute you is basically what it says,” Woody said.