A Lego trafficking operation was broken up "brick by brick" after a Seattle shop owner was caught re-selling stolen sets worth thousands of dollars, police said this week.
The Seattle Police Department announced the bust on Monday, dubbing their investigation "Operation: MandalOrganized Retail Theft" because Lego sets inspired by the Star Wars series "The Mandalorian" were frequently stolen.
The King County Prosecuting Attorney on Wednesday charged Mark Steven Brady, 67, with one count of trafficking in stolen property for allegedly reselling stolen merchandise at his store, Rummage Around.
Brady told NBC News on Friday he had not been arraigned yet and that his court-appointed lawyer had not yet contacted him, but declined further comment.
Trafficking in stolen property is a class B felony in Washington state, the maximum penalty for which is 10 years in prison or a $20,000 fine, or both.
The SPD said they began to investigate after Amazon 4-Star, an in-person store owned by the online retail giant, reported in July they had been the target of repeated thefts.
Between July and September, one thief allegedly stole an estimated $10,000 worth of sets and electronics from the store, according to a criminal complaint.
It wasn't until September when an employee from Amazon 4-Star entered Rummage Around, a store in downtown's Pike Place Market, and noticed that the Lego sets for sale seemed to match the sets stolen from Amazon.
"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," the SPD wrote on their crime blotter.
RFID tags from the items matched those of the robbed store, the police said.
Police say their October sting investigation, which involved plainclothes detectives selling marked merchandise to Brady, revealed that the shop owner allegedly knew he was buying stolen goods to resell.
Police were unable to detain the "prolific shoplifter" who detectives accused of stealing the $10,000 in merchandise.
After receiving a search warrant on Oct. 15, authorities raided Rummage Around and recovered numerous electronics and 171 Lego sets, 34 of which were confirmed stolen from Amazon 4-Star and valued at over $2,000.