The California Highway Patrol executed search warrants against a group of middle-aged retail thieves on Wednesday, recovering an unlikely haul of $300,000 in stolen Lego merchandise.

According to CHP officials, the four individuals involved in the crime ring—identified as Jeremy Johnson, 44, of Orange, California; Marta Hardt, 39, of Huntington Beach; Chung-Pei Yu, 47, of Studio City; and Shen Li, 35, of Brea—coordinated to steal Lego sets from retail stores throughout Southern California. The items were then passed on to dealers for resale online.

Though the idea of Legos being a prized item for high-end retail thieves seems unconventional, the colorful building blocks actually pose a lucrative opportunity for criminals. As ABC News reported, Lego sets can cost hundreds of dollars apiece, with kits like the Millenium Falcon from Star Wars retailing for over $1,000.

In total, the four thieves are believed to have stolen over $300,00 in merchandise from various stores. They have since been charged with theft and conspiracy.

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However, Legos are far from the only target for organized retail theft.

In recent years, shoplifting rates have exploded in nearly every major city in the country, with states like New York and California hardest hit. In 2022, so-called “flash mob” robberies cost New York City retailers $4.4 billion.

Since then, California has emerged as a hotspot for smash-and-grab operations, leading major companies to abandon the state entirely.

Connor Walcott is a staff writer for Follow Connor on X and look for him on VT’s “The Unusual Suspects.”

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