Lego trafficking? Seriously?

When I saw a news story headline “Seattle police bust lucrative Lego trafficking scheme”, I assumed that ‘Lego’ was either an acronym or the street name for some new illegal drug or something else. So imagine my surprise when it turns out to be actually about the familiar children’s toy.

Police in Seattle went undercover to break open what they said was a trafficking ring involving the sale of expensive stolen goods: Lego, taken from an Amazon store.

Saying they had seized 171 sets, police released a picture showing the boxes stacked together.

According to one expert, Lego theft and trafficking has become a major concern.

RJ Coughlin, a director at Brickcon, a convention for adult Lego enthusiasts, told Fox 13 Seattle Lego theft was “very, very prominent here in the north-west”, in part because sets can fetch $800.

“You could go to Fred Meyer and Walmart in many parts of the city, in the outlying areas, and you’ll actually see Lego sets are locked up,” Coughlin said.

“You will see shelves that are pretty much empty, and if you talk to the employees they will tell you someone literally came that morning, loaded up the cart full of Lego and just walked right out [of] there.”

This summer, the Amazon 4-Star, a store in downtown Seattle run by the online retail giant, said it was the target of a repeat shoplifter who stole electronics and Lego sets worth more than $10,000.

I just don’t get it. But then again, there are a lot of things I just don’t get.


  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    … police released a picture showing the boxes stacked together.

    In a colorful and creative way, I trust, or it just shouldn’t count.

  2. JM says

    Lego is a monopoly in it’s market with no serious competitors. Lego has a huge number of sets, charges a lot for them and intentionally limits supply. Like any other expensive product with a limited supply this creates both a resale market and a black market.

    The internet has made it simple to setup world wide markets and run global auctions for this stuff. There are a number of toys and games with just stupid high prices. The companies in these collectable markets have gotten very good at creating limited supply with just the right story behind it. Special editions made only for a specific event, such as a specific toy convention, or only made one year or otherwise in artificially limited supply.

  3. Mark Dowd says

    I imagine graphics cards and Pokemon cards are getting the same treatment. Demand is WAY outstripping supply for both of them, and it’s been that way for so long now.

  4. Who Cares says

    Lego is so expensive that people make a living of buying up any and all second hand Lego to sort through it for the rare(r) pieces so that those can be resold individually, the common pieces being resold in larger packages obviously.

  5. says

    To put more explicitly what other commenters have eluded to, Lego sets maintain their value very well and have a high rate of return.

    I think the linked article makes a point overlooked by the prior commenters, though: “Because of Lego’s popularity among adults, the brand also has a serious secondhand market.” Limited supply was mentioned, but that alone isn’t enough if there is no demand. And I think it is important to note that the demand is not so much from parents looking for toys for their children, but adults looking to add to their own collection (sort of like Will Ferrell’s character in The Lego Movie).

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