Stolen LEGO: Two weeks later, now with a $2000 reward

The past two weeks have been a blur. This is, by far, the strangest thing that has happened in my life to date. I sincerely hope it goes down as the strangest thing ever, because I don’t think I’m prepared for anything weirder than this.

Here’s a quick high-level summary and you can find more detail below:

  • Our LEGO collection is still missing after the LEGO theft on August 28th. We did find a small pile of LEGO outside (photo above); it looks like one set of drawers tipped over after being set down and these are the pieces that were left behind.
  • Today I’m announcing a $2000 reward for the successful return of our collection and helpful information on finding the person(s) responsible.
  • Our home owner’s insurance policy has us covered and will (eventually) pay for all replacement costs in full (less our $1200 deductible).
  • In spite of the above, several friends and family members have been amazingly generous and purchased gifts to help us start replacing our collection more quickly. We couldn’t be more thankful or grateful. Y’all are amazing!
  • We have installed $1000-worth of surveillance and security equipment to help us sleep again… which is finally starting to work.
  • We still need your help keeping eyes on the many different marketplaces and reporting leads.
  • Lastly, I’m bothered a lot by how inward facing all of this has been – my world view has had been too much about me these last two weeks. I’m looking forward to getting back to thinking about and investing in the rest of you.

$2000 Cash Reward!

Pile of Money
Photographic illustration. I promise I won’t pay you entirely in ones.

Yes, we can replace our collection 100% thanks to our home owner’s insurance policy (more details below). This will take time and will still cost us $1200 for our deductible. I’d like to speed that process up and just get the original collection back, so I’m putting up $2000 towards the successful return of our collection and apprehension of the person(s) responsible for the theft.

If you can help us get our collection back, or if you can help us find the person(s) responsible for the theft, we want to personally pay you $2000 for the information.

If you know anything about who did this, where to find them, or where to find our missing LEGO collection, I urge you to please contact the Grandville Police Department or me personally.

Thank you to our generous friends and family!

Despite being clear that our insurance will cover us, many of you saw fit to bless us anyway. Some of you sent LEGO, some of you offered to send LEGO, some offered money and time. I shouldn’t be surprised, knowing all of you like I do, yet here we are. It is so encouraging to know you and be related to you. You’re a wonderful reminder to be more generous myself.

Our insurance has us covered

This section was originally 1,000 words all by itself. I’ve pulled that out into a separate post that I’ll share later. For now I’ll give you a truncated version.

This week we’re getting a $1200 check from the insurance company, against a $7500 loss. We’ll get the rest too, but it’s not a huge windfall that everyone expects and assumes when they say “they’re just doing it for the insurance money”.

Before I go any further, I need to say this: we love and recommend State Farm insurance (and have for years before this incident, too). They have been easy to work with on all fronts: vehicle insurance, renter’s insurance, home owner’s insurance, life insurance, etc. Every time we’ve needed to call them about anything, on any front, we were able to talk to a real human almost immediately. Every. Time.

In short, the process for restoring our collection will be based on reimbursement. As we are able to buy the lost sets we will submit receipts to State Farm. After that they will cut us a check for money spent.

But what if we get the original collection back?

I asked the detective in charge of our case the very same question. There is a restitution process for just such a thing. If we’re able to recover any original parts of our collection that will come off the insurance claim. If we were already paid for a replacement then either the replacement or original will become the insurer’s property. As it turns out, this is both a straight-forward and common occurrence.


Increasing our home security

Security camera
Photo by Serge Kutuzov on

The most frustrating part of all of this for me is that someone was in our home, while we slept, and got away without us noticing anything. This is the only known break-in at this address since the home was built 60 years ago. And it will probably be the only one ever. But we can’t be sure of that, of course. And sleeping has become quite difficult now because every bump and creak puts us on high alert, tense dreams startle us awake, and so on.

So, beyond the $1200 deductible we need to pay for replacing our collection, we’ve spent another $1,000 on surveillance and security equipment for our home. We’ve also paid out far more in hours of attention and wasted anxiety.

I’m not going to give up any details about what we bought, though, as that would defeat the purpose of getting the security system in the first place. I can tell you what we’ve done in general, though, and what you might want to consider for your own home (where we both know a break-in will never happen because you live in a safe neighborhood and lead a private life and keep everything worth stealing either locked up or secret, naturally).

We purchased a combination of cameras and sensors from different providers. This mixture allows us to monitor all doors, floors, and windows. I intentionally picked parts from multiple systems to ensure redundancy. If one layer fails or is compromised another can still secure the area. Everything we’ve installed is connected wirelessly and has battery backups. Outbound signals for the security system will utilize its own 3G antenna if WiFi is unavailable. Our modem and router have their own battery backup as well.

If someone opens a door, or enters through a window, we will be notified immediately. If someone bypasses those security measures and makes it into any room in our house, the secondary system will still notify us immediately. And if someone can cut our power or our internet we will still be notified immediately.

If this sounds like overkill, that’s because it is. Now that the integrity of our home has been compromised, though, I don’t expect we’ll ever live without it. As a rational, thinking human being this bothers me to no end. This is a totally emotional response to a statistical uncertainty. But my rational thoughts aren’t what keep me awake at night.

A quick side-note on counting on other people’s security cameras

Many people asked us if any neighbors may have had security cameras pointing at our home. I was polite and brief in all of my answers about that: no they don’t. Do your neighbors have cameras pointed at your home? Would that make you more or less comfortable?

The more elaborate answer is: even if they did, most cameras have a usable line of sight of about 30 feet, and that’s reduced to about 15 feet in darkness. Even HD cameras still capture barely-useful footage in that full range, which reduces the truly useful distance even further. I could go into a lot more detail about the limitations of the optics and sensors themselves but I think that much detail is useless and will sound condescending. I’ll just sign off as an authority who is both a technophile and a person who has studied camera equipment for more than a decade now.

Casting a wide net

Fishing net
Photo by Jonas Jacobsson on

There are so many digital marketplaces for LEGO. Holy smokes! I knew about a lot of places, but then people reached out and pointed out so many more. Now I’m watching all of them. If you can help watch any of them, too, I would greatly appreciate that.

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of sales outlets to get you started:

And you can find the list of stolen goods and photos of the collection in my previous post.

I’ve also reached out to a number of resellers, advertised buyers, and Lego User Groups (LUGs) to make them aware of the theft and keep eyes peeled for our stolen goods.

As you can imagine, keeping tabs on each of these sites is a serious chore. That’s why I’m looking for help to keep tabs on all the listings and why I’ve offered the $2000 reward.

Reporting leads

If you have any promising leads or information to share, please do! You can reach the Grandville Police Department through the non-emergency line at (616) 538-6110 or email Our case number is 17-6191.

You can contact me via email using my first name at this domain. I’m on twitter as @rzen. I’m also on Facebook and am usually absent there, but will make an exception for discussing this.

Thank you!

One thought on “Stolen LEGO: Two weeks later, now with a $2000 reward

  1. Hi Brian,

    This is crazy awful. I don’t even want to imagine what having a collection stolen is like. I’m an AFOL too and have a Lego blog and I wonder if you would mind if I featured your story on it?

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