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Tech executive's Lego bar-code scam was extensive, police allege

May 25, 2012 |  6:32 am

More details are emerging in the case of a Silicon Valley software executive accused of using fake bar codes to buy massive amounts of Lego sets.

Police allege Thomas Langenbach, a 47-year-old vice president of global software giant SAP, brought his own bar code stickers to Target stores in Mountain View, used them to cover up the real bar codes and purchased hundreds of boxes of the plastic building blocks at vastly discounted prices, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

Investigators said they believe that Langenbach resold 2,100 Lego items on EBay in just more than a year, netting about $30,000.

Prosecutors told ABC News he had 32 fake bar codes in his car at the time of his arrest and dozens more fake bar codes at his home, along with many Lego sets.

Langenbach did not enter a plea during his arraignment Tuesday in Palo Alto.

NBC3 obtained still images from surveillance video showing Langenbach at the store making the purchases.

Investigators told the Mercury News they were baffled as to why a high-tech executive would steal the toys. When authorities searched Langenbach's $2-million San Carlos home, they found "hundreds of unopened boxes," including dozens of the same set, they said.

"Money might have been a part of what brought him pleasure, but I think all indications are there's something way more complex here," Deputy Dist. Atty. Cindy Hendrickson told the newspaper. "It took time, it took effort and it took expense. I don't think you do that just for the money. There had to be something else."

Loss-prevention specialists at one Target store used surveillance cameras to identify Langenbach as their suspected serial Lego thief in April, then sent fliers to area stores warning them of the incidents, officials said.

Store security caught Langenbach in the act May 8, officials said, and he was later arrested by Mountain View police.

"I think it seems clear he took some enjoyment from having Legos around," Hendrickson told the Mercury News. "But I think he also obviously had way more than any one human could possibly enjoy on their own in a legally acceptable way."

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-- Kate Mather
twitter.com/katemather

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