According to KSL, the 31-year-old man is accused of committing 23 thefts across six Target locations between March and June 15. His primary focus appeared to be LEGO sets with a "Harry Potter" theme, and he typically targeted the stores near closing time.
Reportedly, the suspect coordinated his activities with a waiting getaway driver in the store parking lots. Taylorsville police detective Braydon Hamatake shared with the media, "I don't know the identities of the individuals driving him around, as they never left the car. They would park in front of the Target and wait for him."
The suspect was identified through surveillance footage, and Detective Hamatake discovered online classified listings for the allegedly stolen merchandise while posing as a potential buyer. The suspect was allegedly selling the stolen toys for $60, which is only a third of their retail value.
Recalling the encounter, Hamatake said, "When I expressed interest in the LEGOs, he agreed to sell them to me at that price. He even mentioned having a few more sets available. I instructed him to bring them along, so I could examine them."
The suspect was apprehended during their meeting. Despite facing allegations, he denied any involvement during his interview with Hamatake. On June 9, the suspect was officially charged with retail theft. As a token of gratitude, Target presented the detective with a LEGO cake.
This case is indicative of a rise in LEGO-related thefts targeting Target stores. In late May, law enforcement in Upland, California arrested an individual for a similar spree of LEGO thefts. Target disclosed in May that it anticipates a profit loss of $500 million due to theft and organized retail crime.