Star Wars Lego scams busted up

At least two separate scams involving Star Wars Legos — allegedly netting thieves thousands of dollars on eBay — have been broken up by the perpetrators’ worst fears: actual attentive employees.

The stranger of the two cases involves Thomas Langenbach, a successful vice president at Silicon Valley software giant SAP.

Langenbach is accused of slapping phony home-made bar codes onto thousands of dollars worth of expensive Star Wars Lego sets at Target, then buying them at steep discounts so he could sell them on eBay for a profit under the eBay id “tomsbrickyard.”

Nice scam — except that loss prevention officers at Target had been watching Langenbach in the store for about a month before they finally detained him. On May 8, Langenbach allegedly placed bogus bar codes on several items, tested them on the store’s aisle scanners, then put two of the items back on the shelves.

Langenbach allegedly tried to ring up one of the freshly self-discounted sets and got nabbed by store security. They turned him over to police, which led this week to four felony counts of burglary.

Mountain View police later obtained a search warrant and found a huge stockpile of boxed Star Wars Lego sets in Langenbach’s $2 million San Carlos home. Many custom sets, all separated in bricks by color, type, and size were allegedly found, along with dozens of homemade bar code stickers in his car.

Liz Wylie, a spokeswoman for the Mountain View police told the Merc:

“Why does he want the money? I don’t know. I can think of a million different possible scenarios. For some people it’s boredom. For some it’s a compulsive thing.”

Langenbach isn’t the only person accused of Lego bar code chicanery. On Wednesday, San Mateo prosecutors accused Donald Michael Morales, 44, of San Francisco, of the exact same scam on the Peninsula. Authorities say no evidence exists linking the two strikingly similar cases.

Morales faces 15 felony charges for allegedly swapping out bar codes on Star Wars Legos at Target stores in San Mateo, Daly City, San Bruno and Redwood City. And yes, he is also accused flipping them on eBay for a profit.

Morales was busted last at a Redwood City Target when an employee realized that the $140 Millennium Falcon Lego set would not have been on sale for a mere $15.99. Police were called, who gave Morales a misdemeanor citation and a court date.

Since then, Morales has allegedly been linked to 13 other cases of Lego using store surveillance footage. He is accused of going after the Millennium Falcon every single time.

Morales’ no-showed his court date Wednesday morning, so authorities will now issue a warrant for his arrest, said San Mateo District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

Unlike the well-heeled Langenbach, police say Morales told them he was unemployed and had turned to crime after falling on hard times.