Man in Burlington accused of stealing Legos
READING, Mass. (WHDH)-- Toy trouble for a man in Burlington accused of stealing Legos and some other items and then selling them online for a big profit.
Store staffers came to know him as Santa Claus. But this big man with the white beard is accused of taking toys for little boys and girls, not giving them away.
A federal indictment says 67-year-old John Strang of Burlington shoplifted at least 600-thousand dollars worth of books and Lego toys from Barnes and Nobles and Paper Stores across Massachusetts and New Hampshire going back six years or more.
“It is hard being a family own owned business and you kind of see the product going out without being paid for its tough,” said Craig Hewitt, director of operations for The Paper Store.
Paper Store officials say “Santa Claus” knew their chain's weak spots and best times to hit. They also think he had something in that coat over his arm that allowed him to hide books from the alarms and yes, sometimes those Lego toys, which can sell online for big bucks.
“I wasn't surprised at the higher price points. I was surprised at the fact how large some of them are to get them out of our stores, but it did happen,” said Hewitt.
Prosecutors say Strang was making about a thousand dollars a week selling the stuff online.
We found a closed account with the same name mentioned in court papers where buyers praised the “great seller;” getting them Lego White Houses and Star Wars sets for fifty to a hundred dollars or more. While stopping by Strang's home someone matching his description pulled into a nearby driveway and then took off.
Paper Store workers had been looking for their serial shoplifter for years. They say they're not surprised the man they caught turned out to be a man described by his lawyer as a retiree living with his wife on social security.
"No, nothing really surprises me anymore. Sometimes its people you don't expect,” said Hewitt.
Strang is summoned to appear in federal court to answer the indictment. His lawyer said he is the kind of person who takes responsibility for his actions and he expects he will as this story unfolds.