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Police Recover Stolen Star Wars LEGO Sets in Operation: MandalOrganized Retail Theft

Police arrested a downtown store owner and recovered thousands of dollars worth of stolen goods after a prolific thief, and a determined security guard, led investigators to disassemble a LEGO trafficking operation brick by brick.

The investigation — dubbed Operation: MandalOrganized Retail Theft — began in late July, when a downtown retailer contacted police regarding a repeat shoplifter. The business’ loss prevention representative told police a suspect had repeatedly stolen LEGO sets — frequently making off with Star Wars, and specifically “The Mandalorian” sets, in his heists. The loss prevention employee estimated the suspect stole more than $10,000 worth of products between July and September. Employees helped police identify the shoplifter and detectives began an investigation.

In early September, an employee from the targeted business spotted a store in the 1500 block of Pike Place, which seemed to be stocked with many of the same LEGO sets and electronics which had been shoplifted from his store.

The loss prevention supervisor entered the store and found many of the items still had RFID tags on them, indicating they had been previously stolen from his business. He notified police, and a detective went to the store to investigate. While the detective was at the store, the prolific shoplifter arrived and sold multiple items to the shop’s owner.

Through additional undercover work, police determined the owner was knowingly trafficking stolen goods, and on Friday officers served a warrant at the store.

Police seized thousands of dollars’ worth of stolen merchandise, including 171 Lego sets. Using RFID tags and unique identification numbers, the loss prevention representative identified 34 of the products as originating in his store, valued at more than $2,000.

Officers arrested the 67-year-old store owner for trafficking in stolen property and booked him into King County Jail. The investigation of the shoplifter is ongoing.