Exec ‘made fortune selling stolen Lego’

A German software executive has been charged with four counts of burglary in California after he was caught switching bar codes on seven of boxes of Lego to give himself large discounts.

Exec 'made fortune selling stolen Lego'
Photo: DPA

According to a report by US broadcaster NBC, Thomas Langenbach was allegedly caught by CCTV cameras changing the official price tags for home-made ones – complete with bar codes.

He was charged with stealing seven boxes of Lego worth a total of about $1,000 from toy stores in the wealthy Silicon Valley towns of Mountain View and Cupertino.

When the state prosecutors then searched his car, they found 32 home-made barcode stickers.

But the more startling find was in his multi-million dollar home, where investigators discovered hundreds of Lego boxes, and found that he had sold 2,100 Lego products for a total of $30,000 on Ebay in the past year.

Supervising Deputy District Attorney Cindy Seeley Hendrickson said Langenbach was only being charged for the four thefts for the time being, while police sift through his immense Lego collection to find what may be legitimately his.

Langenbach calls himself the “vice president at Palo Alto’s SAP Labs Integration and Certification Center” on his profile on professional social network LinkedIn. SAP (or Systems, Applications and Products in Data Processing) is a German-based software company, which describes itself as a “market leader” in enterprise application software.

Langenbach has been with the company since 1988 and has a degree in computer science and business administration from a vocational college in Mannheim, western Germany.

The exec was apparently particularly keen on Lego’s lucrative “Star Wars” range – the 47-year-old is thought to have re-priced a $279 Lego Millenium Falcon at $49, and a $90 Anakin Skywalker set for about $35.

“This probably happens more often than you’d think,” said local police spokeswoman Liz Wylie told NBC. “But this is the first time we’ve ever had a case like this. Lego is very popular and expensive.”

The Local/bk

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Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.