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To catch a thief.

Postby Count Blacktron » Sat Jul 12, 2008 3:31 pm

There is a man in his 50s in my local area that feels it is his right to own LEGO, even if he does not pay for it. I've bumped into him a couple of times over the years, but in the last year something happened that he now takes entire sets, once a week, from the stores I frequent. I never expected this behavior from anyone.

Why does this bother me? Well, it's dishonest, dirty and low for one, and on the other hand the stores have less interest in re-ordering. I'm certain he's ruined at least one previous watering hole. I'd like to catch him; the staff at my favorite store would like to catch him. In truth, they need more cameras and concerned citizens. I'd like to educate you all what he does and where he is so perhaps he can be outed. Spread the word!

He steals mostly what is new on the shelf. I do not believe he has moved on to Castle products. He gets most of what he wants from my Chattanooga TN Toys R Us that I am aware of. He's gotten Star Wars, Indiana Jones, City and Batman for certain recently (all of them).

He wears extremely baggy clothes, with two pairs of pants. Jogging pants or sweat pants are the inner garment, and he duct tapes the ankles tightly underneath.

Size of the LEGO set appears to be no concern. He cuts or tears the taped end of LEGO boxes on one end and up-ends the contents into his gaping wide XL pants. The spilled contents of the box filter down into his taped pants. He seems to be moving $100 to $200 in product each visit. Size I have said is not his concern; he's gotten a City Harbour set and a Mindstorms set (according to staff). The empty boxes are left askew and almost in a "catch me if you can" manner.

He appears to be over 6 feet tall, heavy set and always in baggy clothes. He has gray hair of a man in his 50s, and often is seen wearing glasses. Most stores that he does this at think he is a regular and good customer and sometimes will buy smaller items.

He moves in the Chattanooga TN (USA) area, though I hope he crosses the boarder to GA (hello FBI). He has likely gotten many hundereds of dollars (thousands?) in LEGO. I do not know for sure if he sells, I have searched the zip code radius around 37421 to see if there are any open box new sets for sale. I suspect he has a basement dungeon for his stolen goods city.

With the LEGO Clone Wars sets looming at the TRU release date of July 26, I expect him to be tempted sorely by a great many of those large Star Wars sets. And I am working overtime to get cameras installed in his "work zones".

If you run across anything that sounds like this. PM me. I want to catch him.
-Aaron-
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Postby wobnam » Sat Jul 12, 2008 4:33 pm

Don't the bricks make a lot of noise when he walks with them down his pants?
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Postby Heir of Black Falcon » Sat Jul 12, 2008 6:09 pm

Sounds uncomfortable....

There was a similar story of a man lifting 100,000s of dollars from TRU and other stores in Florida then selling on ebay not long ago. Sadly unless the stores get their defence up there is little you can do unless you see him doing this . If you are fairly sure you have seen him steal then you could contact the local police and see what they think. If he has been doing this for a time and takes 100-200 at a time you'd think it would be of enough interest to both the store and law enforcement to deal with.

I am sure that this type of behavior is not helping any of us legit buyers but not sure what you can really do aside from what you are doing. If you have brought it to the attention of the stores or feel like you have enough evidence to call the police thats about all I can imagine to do.

R
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Postby castlebuilder100 » Sat Jul 12, 2008 8:40 pm

Wow, that's not too far from where I live.
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Postby Remyth » Sat Jul 12, 2008 9:43 pm

castlebuilder100 wrote:Wow, that's not too far from where I live.


:shock: Count Blacktron, did you know you lived near Middle Earth!?!?


Nah, your situation really stinks. I don't know what to say. Be safe in whatever you do, though.

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Re: To catch a thief.

Postby Sibley » Sat Jul 12, 2008 10:03 pm

I'm a bit confused. Given the amount that you know about his appearance and methods it seems like the stores should already know who this guy is, and you or others have seen him in the act. Is this not the case?

Count Blacktron wrote:There is a man in his 50s in my local area that feels it is his right to own LEGO, even if he does not pay for it.

This sentence bothers me. He's probably just a common criminal, but you make him out to be some kind of insane egomaniac.

Sorry if it seems like I'm coming down hard on your post. Seriously, that stinks, especially when it interferes with the stores having product available for legitimate buyers.
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Postby castlebuilder100 » Sat Jul 12, 2008 10:44 pm

Remyth wrote:
castlebuilder100 wrote:Wow, that's not too far from where I live.


:shock: Count Blacktron, did you know you lived near Middle Earth!?!?


:lol: I didn't even think about that.
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Re: To catch a thief.

Postby Morgan19 » Sat Jul 12, 2008 10:55 pm

Sibley wrote:I'm a bit confused. Given the amount that you know about his appearance and methods it seems like the stores should already know who this guy is, and you or others have seen him in the act. Is this not the case?


I was wondering the same thing. I get the impression there's a ton of knowledge about this "guy in his 50s": I don't get how there's so much information on him, down to his methods and frequency, yet he's still at it. Something doesn't sound right...

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Postby Count Blacktron » Sun Jul 13, 2008 12:00 am

In order to apprehend him, they want proof in form of witnesses or pictures. There are no pictures that damn him for getting the stuff, but he was seen putting the LEGO down his pants and forced to loose the items out on the floor and then he paid for them. The manager told him at this TRU never to come back, but the rest of the staff seems to stupid to keep him out, or he slips in as they still report him in the store and have camera images of him inside. He's actually been thrown out of this particular TRU twice. Every time he is seen in the store, some time after he leaves the evidence (empty boxes) are found. TRU does not, as policy goes, pursue shoplifters unless they have gross evidence. As I said, that requires picture evidence or an eye witness to stand up and identify. Typically they don't see it as a necessity, but as the problem mounts you can see that they are re-thinking this at this location anyhow. I am trying to get the management to allow me to install a camera, but at the very least I am trying to educate the staff. Minimum wage sales floor workers at TRU are usually young and/or inexperienced and have little interest in working together against this I have found. It's odd in that it is known, they know who it is, they have the leftovers, they've HAD him twice (at least) and they let him go. They should be detaining him, getting the police to cart him away and let the loss prevention people (company detectives) handle the calculations of amounts lost to bring a case against him. I too am baffled that the management and staff do so little to even try to stop the problem. Makes you wonder about those people really. What's got to happen to make him catch their attention? :roll:

It is quite frustrating that there is so much known, and that by all the accounts I have collected they just let him slip by and he KNOWS it.

If LEGO could do anything to decrease theft of their product, I think they should consider re-designing their product boxes somewhat like the Mega Bloks POTC set boxes (nearly impossible to open quickly).

Middle Earth is near... my home is somewhat of a Hobbit Hole... :wink:
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Postby Handar » Sun Jul 13, 2008 12:08 am

Given that a manager has told him previously that he's not welcome at the store, is there any way that he could be charged with trespassing if he shows up in the future? It may be easier to prove that he was in the store after he has been 'banned' than that he was stealing Lego.

Things may be more complicated than that, i.e. he may need to be 'officially' served some sort of notice that he is no longer allowed on TrU property, but that might be something to look into. *shrug*
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Re: To catch a thief.

Postby Count Blacktron » Sun Jul 13, 2008 12:25 am

Sibley wrote:
Count Blacktron wrote:There is a man in his 50s in my local area that feels it is his right to own LEGO, even if he does not pay for it.

This sentence bothers me. He's probably just a common criminal, but you make him out to be some kind of insane egomaniac.
[quote]

Don't you think that by the nature of the crime, the fact that it's done during busy hours (I missed him by a close margin when I visited the store at 4pm to look at things with my kids) and he's taken a City Harbour set DOWN HIS PANTS right out the front door and past the customer service counter (staffed always) that he is? You'd have to be somewhat of an insane egomaniac I think, especially given that they caught him, he weasled out of it and they told him never to return, but still is there every week.

Is it possible in America to actually profit from crime and even feel proud? I'd like to think not, but it seems that only a handful of us care enough to make a difference. Not all that different from Gotham City are we. :?
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Postby Tower of Iron Will » Sun Jul 13, 2008 1:14 am

This individual appears to have a compulsion to steal, much like an addiction to the thrill of taking the LEGO. It probably gives him a "rush" of power. Much like an alcoholic or drug addict, he is always trying to make his body feel like that. It would be interesting to see if serious jail time would stop the behavior. The effect of serious jail time, while satisfying all of our need for justice in this case, may or may not "cure" him. Yet letting him continue this is stupid.

TRU needs to keep him out of their stores, by posting/distributing pictures around their registers. They need to enforce the law by bringing up charges that the police can use to lock him up. The police might think this is a low priority, shoplifting versus armed robbery but the line has to be drawn. Maybe the guy should steal some music cd's. The music industry would sick the Nazgul on him so fast.

It sounds like you need the support of the TRU store. Failing that, go to the regional office of TRU or basically up the corporate ladder until someone helps. If that doen't work try the local news. They might be interested if it's a slow news day. Another avenue is a local political unit such as an anti-crime cadidate running for re-election.
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Re: To catch a thief.

Postby Sibley » Sun Jul 13, 2008 3:04 am

Count Blacktron wrote:
Sibley wrote:Don't you think that by the nature of the crime, the fact that it's done during busy hours (I missed him by a close margin when I visited the store at 4pm to look at things with my kids) and he's taken a City Harbour set DOWN HIS PANTS right out the front door and past the customer service counter (staffed always) that he is? You'd have to be somewhat of an insane egomaniac I think, especially given that they caught him, he weasled out of it and they told him never to return, but still is there every week.

Sorry, I wasn't clear. What I meant was that you seem to presume to know the reasons for the crime--a claim that, if true, is not supported by the rest of your post. Given the nature of the crime I think it's pretty acceptable to say that he's insane ;) but there's no way we can say for sure that he doesn't feel a pang of guilt each night as he lies in bed, or that he really believes he somehow owns the sets sitting on the shelves in the store. Of course, this whole post is somewhat pedantic and if there are any criminal psychologists on the phorum I will gladly bow to their superior knowledge of the subject.

Good luck to you, Bruce.
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Postby Robin Hood » Mon Jul 14, 2008 5:46 am

Wow, that is bad. Being a fair few miles away, I can't do more than give advice, and seeing as I've never been a similar situation, I can't give any. But I do have a couple of thoughts. I guess what you need to do is first figure out who he is. If you can, I dunno, hang around the store a lot, spot him, then follow him, or at least get his license number. Once that's done, you need to find some reason to call the police to his house. If the cops can get inside for two seconds, and know what they are looking for, the guy will behind bars no time flat. Or I assume so from the amount of Lego it sounds like he has taken. But this is all really just stating the obvious, and not something that could actually happen. Or at least I can't think of a reason to get cops look in a guy's house for stolen Lego, not without hard evidence. I guess just be vigilant, and pray that you catch him in the act.

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Postby Tower of Iron Will » Mon Jul 14, 2008 1:36 pm

Robin Hood wrote:Wow, that is bad. Being a fair few miles away, I can't do more than give advice, and seeing as I've never been a similar situation, I can't give any. But I do have a couple of thoughts. I guess what you need to do is first figure out who he is. If you can, I dunno, hang around the store a lot, spot him, then follow him, or at least get his license number. Once that's done, you need to find some reason to call the police to his house. If the cops can get inside for two seconds, and know what they are looking for, the guy will behind bars no time flat. Or I assume so from the amount of Lego it sounds like he has taken. But this is all really just stating the obvious, and not something that could actually happen. Or at least I can't think of a reason to get cops look in a guy's house for stolen Lego, not without hard evidence. I guess just be vigilant, and pray that you catch him in the act.

Dan :wink:


This may be a good idea at first, but then it could be that his home on the inside looks no different from the "average" LEGO collector. I have a lot of current year sets that are still in the the box and would not like the police rummaging through my stuff making me present receipts for all my sets I have(plus all of the sorted LEGO). :shock: I doubt the police would be able to tell the difference, even with an AFOL on their staff.
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