The Lego bandits: Australian toy shops targeted by thieves in daring £40k colourful brick raids

Shop owners say ‘strategic’ smash and grabs involved angle grinders and other specialised equipment

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The Independent Online

Thieves in Australia have launched a series of daring and sophisticated raids across New South Wales, using angle grinders and other specialised equipment – but they aren’t targeting banks or jewellery shops.

Instead, the bandits have targeted toy shops selling boxes of Lego, making off with tens of thousands of pounds-worth of the colourful bricks in repeated heists across multiple locations.

The bizarre raids have seen an estimated $70,000 AUD (£40,000) of goods taken, Australia’s Daily Telegraph reported, while the discerning thieves have left more junior toys like Duplo and the cheaper Lego sets untouched.

Police suspect thieves are selling the toys at markets and online. The latest incident saw more than 300 boxes taken in just one raid, worth $20,000 (£11,000).

Carey Horner told the Telegraph that his Toy Kingdom store was hit in the early hours of the morning by a middle-aged man who walked with a limp, and that it was also targeted in a previous raid apparently by the same person in 2012.

He said: “After the first robbery we ¬improved our security. The fact he had a grinder ready to go to punch out the locks shows he was well ¬prepared.”

Mr Horner said Lego was a top seller for toy shops, and not easily traced.

“It’s probably the number one selling item in toy shops. It’s easy to sell and they generally don’t have individual serial numbers per box, which makes it harder to track,” he said.

“There is a bit of a strategic grab — they predominately leave behind the Duplo, younger toys and don’t go after the smaller boxes under $15.”

Though they cannot be certain how many suspects are involved, a description has emerged of one man who is wanted in connection with five raids across New South Wales and Victoria, police said.

The thief was reportedly aged between 50 to 60, with a medium build, 167cm (5ft 6ins) tall and was wearing dark trousers, a long sleeve shirt and a cap.

Detective Senior Constable Ian Porter told radio station 3AW that he had pieced together certain aspects of the break-ins.

He said: “It’s important that the public are aware of any market or market stalls that are selling Lego, in particular the Lego ‘Technic’ brand and the Lego ‘City’ brand.”