From Grandparent to Grand Larceny: 71-Year-Old’s $100K LEGO Heist

The senior citizen and his younger female accomplice are arrested for allegedly stealing rare LEGO toys

LEGO Heist in California

In a crime story that’s sure to leave you scratching your head, a 71-year-old man, Richard Siegel, has been arrested after police discovered a shocking haul at his home: over $100,000 worth of stolen LEGO sets! But the plot twist doesn’t end there. Siegel allegedly wasn’t working alone. His accomplice? A 39-year-old woman named Blanca Gudino.

The news sent shockwaves through the LEGO community, particularly collectors who prize rare and discontinued sets. But how did a senior citizen and his younger accomplice pull off such a bricktastic heist?

Uncovering the heist

The investigation into the pair began in December 2023, when a retailer in San Pedro reported a series of thefts to the police. Loss prevention personnel identified Gudino as a suspect, setting off a chain of events that would eventually lead to the arrest of both individuals.

According to a press release from the Los Angeles Police Department, members of the department observed Gudino stealing items from retailers in Torrance and Lakewood on June 4, 2024. She then delivered the stolen goods to Siegel’s residence in Long Beach. The next day, armed with a search warrant, police entered Siegel’s home and found the enormous stash of stolen LEGO sets.

Some of the stolen LEGO sets found in Richard Siegel's home
Some of the stolen LEGO sets found in Richard Siegel’s home | Photo Credit: LAPD

A Collector’s Dream or a Criminal Enterprise?

According to the Los Angeles Police Department, they recovered more than 2,800 LEGO sets, which range in value from $20 to “well over $1,000.” While the exact motive remains unclear, reports suggest the stolen items targeted specific, high-value sets and minifigures. This detail implies the stolen LEGOs weren’t intended for personal enjoyment but rather for resale on the collector’s market, where rare and discontinued sets can fetch hefty prices.

Some of the stolen LEGO sets the LAPD seized
Some of the stolen LEGO sets the LAPD seized | Photo Credit: LAPD

The Modus Operandi

The alleged thieves operated with a level of sophistication that surprised even seasoned investigators. Siegel reportedly used online sales sites to lure potential buyers, who would arrive at his home to purchase the stolen goods. In fact, potential buyers of the toys had arrived at Siegel’s residence during the raid, lured by advertisements placed by Siegel on internet sales sites.

This method of selling the stolen items helped the duo maintain a steady stream of income while avoiding detection for several months.

The Aftermath: Charges and Legal Ramifications

Siegel was charged with organized retail theft, a felony in California. Gudino faces charges of grand theft.  According to jail records, Siegel was released on his own recognizance and is scheduled to appear in court on June 26, 2024. Gudino is currently being held on a $20,000 bail.

The investigation is ongoing, and it’s unclear if this case is connected to the earlier reports of stolen LEGOs from Bricks & Minifigs locations across Southern California.

The series of LEGO heist at Bricks & Minifigs stores

Earlier last week, The Los Angeles Times reported that more than $100,000 in LEGO products had been stolen from six Bricks & Minifigs stores across Southern California. The alleged thieves were described as “two men” who “worked as a team” to target the LEGO resale stores in the area between April and June.

“We’re a specialty store for people trying to find the Lego set from when they were younger — the things that we do have can’t be easily replenished. They’re not stealing big box sets. They’re stealing mini-figures, and those individual guys go for $500 to $600 apiece, so they’re easily stolen and resold for a quick profit,” Katie Leuschner, owner of Bricks & Minifigs Whittier location, told the Los Angeles Times.

Source: Los Angeles Police Department, The Los Angeles Times
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