Seattle police bust store owner suspected in Lego trafficking operation

A thief was apparently stealing Star Wars Lego sets and selling them to a competitor across town, police said

By Amanda Zhou
The Seattle Times

SEATTLE — Seattle police arrested a 67-year-old downtown store owner Friday who is suspected of trafficking stolen Lego sets and other items at a store in Pike Place Market.

The Seattle Police Department opened an investigation — "Operation: MandalOrganized Retail Theft" — in late July, after a downtown retailer reported a repeat shoplifter who frequently stole Star Wars-themed Lego sets, according to an item on the agency's online blotter.

A LEGO Store opens at Montgomery Mall on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, in Bethesda, Md.
A LEGO Store opens at Montgomery Mall on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, in Bethesda, Md. (ric Kayne/AP Images for The LEGO Group)

The store estimated $10,000 worth of products were stolen between July and September, police said.

In early September, police said an employee from the targeted business spotted a store in the 1500 block of Pike Place, which appeared to be stocked with many of the same items, including electronics, that had been shoplifted.

Another employee determined the items still had the same store tracking tags on them, police said. Later, while a detective was at the store, the shoplifter who was identified by the targeted retailer arrived and sold several items to the shop's owner.

Police said undercover detectives were able to determine the owner knowingly sold the stolen goods. A warrant was served at the store Friday and the owner was booked into the King County Jail on investigation of trafficking stolen property, according to police.

Officers seized thousands of dollars of stolen merchandise, including 171 Lego sets.

An investigation into the suspected shoplifter is ongoing, police said.

(c)2021 The Seattle Times

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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