LEGO landmarks taken in $6,500 vehicle burglary [NEWS]

Typically our little stories about LEGO in the wider news have a tendency to engender some sort of controversy, but one thing I hope most us can agree on: It’s not cool to steal someone’s LEGO collection.

According to the Oakland Tribune, nightmare became reality for Mark Benz, 49, of Fremont, CA. Mark, who is president of BayLUG, drove the creations back from Palo Alto, where he had a large part of his collection on display at the Museum of American Heritage for a display with other BayLUG members. When he got home, he left the collection in his truck for a about a week. On the morning of February 3rd, he found that $6,500 worth of his LEGO collection had been taken in a vehicle burglary the preceding night. Mark told me in an e-mail that, “It feels crummy! Like somebody took years of your life, along with the cost of the bricks!”

According to Mark, the following models and elements were taken:

“About 20,000 parts forming 20 square feet of LEGO models of San Francisco waterfront landmarks: Ghirardelli Square, the new Conservatory of Flowers, Palace of Fine Arts, Maritime Museum and municipal pier, and the USS Pampanito [submarine]. Also, trains taken: California Zephyr, Whale Car, red SW1000 diesel and freight cars, at least 4 small classic town sets: Camera car, speedboat, ultralite and 1 other, about 60 baseplates, and all of the trees used to scenic common areas of BayLTC layouts.”

LEGO news Mark Benz' stolen Ghirardelli Square

LEGO news Mark Benz' stolen buildings

LEGO news Mark Benz' stolen trains

We thought it might be worth passing along the information since quite a few of you are going to be scouring BrickLink, craigslist, e-bay, classifieds and garage sales for LEGO anyway, so y’all might be the perfect people to keep an eye out for signs of Mark’s stolen LEGO.

Mark also wrote that he’d “very much like to thank all the BayLUG members and All Fans of LEGO (AFOLs) who’ve expressed condolences and sent pictures and support concerning this theft.”

If you run across a sale of LEGO that’s uncannily similar to Mark’s collection and/or a deal that’s too good to be true from the San Francisco Bay area, please do the right thing. I think empathy should be enough, but Mark is offering a $500 reward for the recovery of his collection.

If you have pertinent information, contact Detective Bill Veteran of the Fremont Police Department at 510-790-6800.

16 comments on “LEGO landmarks taken in $6,500 vehicle burglary [NEWS]

  1. wunztwice

    I have no other way to contact Mr. Benz, so I would like to give my condolences here. I once had a new set stolen from my car, but nothing like this. Mark, I feel for you!

  2. SavaTheAggie

    As an up and coming train builder who has devoted a few years of my life into my train MOCs, I can certainly feel for Mr. Benz’ situation. It would be a nightmare if it were to happen to me.

    At the same time, however, it serves as a stark reminder that we all must remain vigilant, and not take chances. Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today, like unpack your car. Every excellent MOC that a builder from our community creates pushes our hobby just a little more into the mainstream and adds just that much more value to our little bricks.

  3. Jean C

    This incident also highlights the need to properly, and if possible subtly, label MOCs and key elements. Passport numbers engraved with a Dremel tool on 9V train motors are an excellent deterrent to theft.

  4. fallentomato

    I too have been the victim of lego theft, though mine was just a dozen bucket of basic blocks, it was still a sad day. I hope that this story will have a happy ending.

  5. Creative Anarchy

    The last thing I want to seem is unsympathetic but leaving a ton of brick out in a parking area for a week is a bad plan. I think we tend to think of our bricks as not being something that people would steal because despite their expense people outside the AFOL seem to have so little regard for our hobby. But savvy thieves understand the resale value of highly popular children’s toys. I don’t know if Mark Benz is reading but I’d bet if he checks the 2nd hand stores within 5 miles of the parking lot his truck was in he’ll find his bricks for sale cheap. Probably pawned for someone’s next fix.

  6. proudlove

    Ouch! Why don’t you just come out and say it. “Mark deserved to lose that Lego for being stupid.” C’mon, I bet he feels foolish enough, the last thing he wants to hear is how the theft could have been avoided. If you don’t have all the facts, you should probably not say anything at all. People are far too quick to offer ‘should have’ statements any time something like this happens. Mark, I feel for you man, that is a truly crappy deal.

  7. Thanel Post author

    I’m totally w/ proudlove on this. I’m absolutely sure Mark is already beating himself up over this, not really our place to get a few extra kicks in.

  8. Marc Nelson Jr.

    I’d always assumed no one would want to steal LEGO. What kind of money are they possibly going to get for that stuff? A pawn shop might give you $40 for the lot.

  9. kunert

    I’ll keep an eye on the nearby Sacramento craigslist, for what it’s worth. I do anyway. I hate crime. I’m seeing a real upsurge of theft lately in my little circle. And it’s hard to resist the admonishment tendency, because I feel like meth addicts are constantly scoping anything of mine that’s not nailed down, and I’d be really surprised if this was the victim’s first experience of this type.

  10. Creative Anarchy

    Nobody deserves to have things they love taken from them. While a thief understands the marketable value of legos they don’t probably come close to understanding the attachment we have to the stuff. They only see an ambiguous product that can be moved quickly for untracable income, a high ratio or proffit to risk. I don’t revel in seeing someone’s trust of their neighbors cost them a huge portion of their lego collection. More so I want others to be conscious of what thieves see when they spot a huge bulk of legos in the back of an unwatched vehicle.

  11. Thanel Post author

    Mark Nelson Jr: All a meth user needs is enough to get high. $40 is enough to stay high for a day, and those that are at the vehicle burglary level usually aren’t thinking much more than a day out.

    MV: Just the contents of the vehicle. A vehicle burglary with grand theft, not a vehicle theft.

    kunert: Tweakers are scoping everyone’s stuff out, it ain’t personal.

    Creative Anarchy: You’re pretty much right about car burglars not caring at all about value to the owners. Oddly enough, theft is a very selfish crime.

    While I have the platform for the PSA, it’s worth pointing out that many commonly overlooked items such as receipts and junk mail left in cars are plenty tempting for burglars who have connections to ID theft rings. Also, report any burglary with as much detailed information about the loss as possible. It’s shocking how much unidentified unreported–obviously stolen–property is recovered in receiving/possessing stolen property cases.

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