French police are building a case against an international gang of Lego thieves

Chris Malloy is a Lego collector and the managing editor of Brothers Brick, a website for Lego collectors, builders and enthusiasts. (Submitted by Chris Malloy)

Legos make a temping targets for thieves because they're hard to track and they sell for big money on the black market, says a man who runs a news site dedicated to the toy bricks.

French police are building a case against an international gang of thieves who have been stealing Lego sets from across the country, reports the Guardian. Officers arrested three people in Yvelines, which is about an hour west from Paris, last summer.

They learned from the suspects, who were all from Poland, that they were part of a team specialized in stealing the brick sets from toy stores.

Chris Malloy, a Lego collector who runs the website Brothers Brick, spoke with As It Happens host Carol Off about the market for Legos. Here is part of their conversation.

Chris, why are people stealing Lego?

Lego has quite a following with the adult fan community. Because of that, there's a huge market for Lego right now.

Unlike a lot of products, it doesn't have serial numbers or anything. So it's a very easy product for thieves to target and then find a ready market for that to be sold.

But this isn't just like stealing some bricks or trays…. Organized groups of thieves have been busted. In this one case in France, they are gathering this stuff up and taking it into some Lego black market. Did you know that was going on?

We see reports of Lego sets being stolen on a pretty large scale fairly regularly. I see, every six months or so, news stories about that. And I think that's because Lego is a very high dollar value item, especially given its relative size. So it makes a very good target for thieves because it is such an easy product for them to resell. And it also is a very valuable product. Some Lego sets go for hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars depending on what they're targeting.

Café Corner is a Lego set from 2007 that the company has currently discontinued. Malloy says it can sell nowadays as much as $3,000 US. (Lego Group)

Wow. What are some of the most valuable Lego sets?

Lego tends to have products that are available for a couple of years at a time and then they phase them out.

[If] you could walk into a Lego store or buy directly from the company right now, they range from anywhere from a couple hundred dollars up to the largest, [which] is a Millennium Falcon ... and that one goes for about $800 US.

If you look at older sets that are no longer in production, they have a collector value on top of their original value and those can go for thousands of dollars. Lego has a line of modular city buildings ... classic architecture from Americana and some European cities. There's one from 2007 called Café Corner ... and that goes for $2,000 to $3,000, depending on how nice of a copy it is.