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Silicon Valley executive accused of stealing Legos from Target

May 22, 2012|By Deborah Netburn
  • Thomas Langenbach, a Silicon Valley technology executive, is facing burglary charges after authorities accused him of changing the bar codes on Lego toys at Target stores to buy them for less.
Thomas Langenbach, a Silicon Valley technology executive, is facing burglary… (Associated Press )

Silicon Valley executive Thomas Langenbach, 47, was charged this week with four counts of second degree burglary after he allegedly put fake bar codes on Lego sets in Target stores so that they rung up at a deeply discounted price at the register.

For example, on April 20 he allegedly paid $49.99 for a Millennium Falcon Lego set that retails for $139.99 and he bought an X-wing Starfighter Lego set for $19.99 that retails at Target for $59.99, police said.

Langenbach allegedly sold the Lego sets for profit on Ebay, using the handle "Toms Brickyard."

Police spokeswoman Liz Wylie toldthe Mercury News that Langenbach sold 2,100 items in the last year on EBay  and made $30,000.

But this month, the Lego house that Langenbach had painstakingly constructed brick by brick came tumbling down. On May 8, Target officials caught him on video replacing bar codes on Lego sets, police said, and he was arrested. He was released on $10,000 bail.

He was arraigned Tuesday morning, and the case is set for a hearing June 20.

Supervising Deputy District Atty. Cindy Hendrickson said Langenbach faces a maximum sentence of five years in state prison.

In an interview with The Times, Hendrickson said Langenbach put a lot of effort into shaving money off his Lego purchases.

He allegedly kept plastic baggies containing the fake bar codes in his car, carefully organized with the name of the item on the bag. Some of the bar codes provided him a discount of just $20, others gave him a $100 discount, Hendrickson said.

Langenbach never bought a lot of items at one time, she said, and he went to several Target stores to run his alleged scam. At the Target store in Mountain View, where he was caught, for example, he put bar codes on three different Lego boxes, but only brought one of them to the register, she said.

"He would have to come back if he was planning on purchasing those other items," Hendrickson said.

Langenbach kept his Legos at home, where he had as many as 46 of the same item, she said, and he also had a staging area to photograph the Legos so he could post pictures on EBay.

"It was quite an enterprise," Hendrickson said.

But what makes the case especially strange is that Langenbach didn't appear to have any trouble making money the traditional way. According to his LinkedIn page, he is a vice president at Palo Alto's SAP Labs Integration and Certification Center, and has been with the company since 1988.

The Mercury News reported that he lives in a $2-million home in San Carlos, Calif., about 30 minutes south of San Francisco.

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