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Wealthy tech exec nabbed for elaborate Lego crime spree

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Lego bricks might be a dime a dozen, but one Silicon Valley bigwig got caught trying to turn them into easy money.

Thomas Langenbach, an executive with global software company SAP, has been arrested for stealing Lego toys from Target retail locations across Northern California, reports the San Jose Mercury News. But forget shoplifting -- Langenbach's scheme was considerably more hi-tech.

According to prosecutors, Langenbach used his tech know-how to create homemade barcode stickers for Lego toy sets, which he would slyly slap over the real bar codes while browsing at Target. He'd then purchase the toys at a massive discount, only to sell them online on eBay to turn a tidy profit.

The plan went south, however, when security at a Target store in Mountain View, CA witnessed him purchasing Lego sets at discount prices. That made him a person of interest to the retail chain, and two weeks later, security allegedly saw him replacing barcodes and unwittingly using Target's in-store barcode scanner to make sure he was getting the right rate. After purchasing another cheap set, he was nabbed and the cops were brought in.

The damage had been done, however.

"In his house, we found hundreds of boxes of unopened Lego sets," Mountain View police spokeswoman Liz Wylie told the paper. "He sold 2,100 items in just over a year on eBay, and made $30,000."

What remains baffling is why he'd take such a risk for such a relatively paltry sum. Langenbach owns a $2 million house in the affluent SF peninsula city of San Carlos, sharing the small town with the likes of Barry Bonds and Dana Carvey. He's worked for SAP — who employ over 50,000 workers worldwide — for over two decades. The only possible explanation? The dude loves Legos, as inside his home, police found "many, many sets of Legos that he had built, separated in bricks by color, by type, by size."

And apparently, his plan is catching on with fellow crooks. Mere days after Langenbach's arrest, another San Francisco man was busted for planting fake barcodes on Star Wars Lego sets. Police don't believe the cases are related, but it sure sounds like the two bricks fit.

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