Christmas was (probably not) ruined for several German children yesterday after thieves bust through a toyshop wall in Lippstadt and escaped with dozens of Lego sets said to be worth a total of €35,000.
Despite the "picture of devastation" and metre-wide opening left in the wall, investigators are struggling to piece everything together.
"The hole was right at the end of the Lego section. They must have jumped in here and then proceeded very specifically," Jana Schumacher, manager of the Toys World store, told Der Spiegel (auf Deutsch).
Even more baffling is the fact that the perps emptied about a hundred Lego boxes and took only the blocks inside, leaving the shop floor scattered with packaging. Cops reckon they did this to save space.
"They must have spied on this before," Schumacher lamented. "If they had continued to move around the store, a signalling system would have gone on."
A police statement to The Register confirmed that no arrests have been made, but they would not be drawn on whether the instruction manuals were taken too.
It seems like a lot of very calculated trouble to go through for some toys and yet this is far from the only instance of stores being looted for Lego.
In neighbouring France, the gendarmerie believe they are on the trail of an international Lego crime ring where crooks "set up in a hotel in the Paris region, then set about raiding toy stores before returning to Poland to sell off their haul," according to an investigator speaking to La Parisien newspaper.
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"The Lego community isn't just made up of children," they said. "There are numerous adults who play with it; there are swaps and sales on the internet. We've also had people complaining their homes have been broken into and Lego stolen."
This gang is believed to be behind thefts in France in 2019, 2020, and this year too. Numerous thefts have also happened in the US, Canada, and Australia over the past five years. One career criminal from Florida was said to have made $1m by "selling Legos and other stolen goods online."
For people who see Lego as little more than a bit of fun with the kids, it is striking to learn about the enthusiast scene – where full-grown adults must spend hundreds of hours designing their own custom sets to sell or share the instructions online.
This can spark demand for very specific bricks, which can be found through websites like Bricklink – including those no longer in production.
The pandemic has also caused a surge of interest in the hobby. When you put two and two together, it becomes clearer why miscreants might bother to smash down the wall of a toyshop.
Back in Lippstadt, it was noted that products from similar ranges, like Playmobil, were untouched. Because Playmobil is crap. [Oh dear, Rich. We have a flame-proof shed you could borrow – ed] ®