SAP executive pleads 'not guilty' in LEGO-theft case

Thomas Langenbach faces five years in prison if convicted of all charges

A Palo Alto software company executive accused of switching barcodes on the tags of LEGO toys rejected a plea bargain and pleaded not guilty in Santa Clara County Superior Court in Palo Alto on Tuesday morning, Aug. 14.

Mountain View police arrested Thomas Langenbach, 47, the vice president of Palo Alto software firm SAP Labs, LLC, on May 8. He was charged with four felony-burglary counts for allegedly pasting fraudulent barcodes on LEGO toys at local Target stores. Loss-prevention officers at the Mountain View Target, located at 555 Showers Drive, detained him when he purchased a LEGO set that he allegedly labeled with a fraudulent barcode.

Langenbach had allegedly been "ticket switching" LEGO boxes since April 20 at the Target stores in Mountain View, Cupertino and near his San Carlos home, according to Mountain View police. He purchased the items at greatly lowered prices scanned from the barcodes, according to a criminal complaint by the Santa Clara County District Attorney's office.

Police found hundreds of unopened LEGO sets -- many special-edition items -- at his gated, multimillion-dollar home, according to court papers. Items from the three stores were found at Langenbach's home, according to a police report filed with the court.

Investigators also found eight Ziploc bags containing labels with fraudulent barcodes in his 2011 Toyota Sienna van. There were also shipping boxes in the home. Police say he had an eBay account, through which he has sold 2,100 items since April 17, 2011.

Mountain View police spokeswoman Liz Wylie previously said Langenbach sold about $30,000 in merchandise on an eBay account under the name Tom's Brickyard. At the time of his arrest, 193 items were for sale. Most were LEGO sets, according to court papers.

He is charged with four counts of second-degree burglary -- entering with intent to commit theft -- for the Mountain View and Cupertino thefts. The popular, expensive LEGO toys are targeted for thefts, and Target stores keep a close watch on the products, conducting daily inventories, Wylie said.

Langenbach told police that he did not intend to steal the items, according to court papers. He said that he had seen a video on YouTube about how to make fake barcodes to get cheaper toys. He switched the barcodes out of curiosity, to see if it really worked. He also wanted to see if the customer price scanner and cash-register scanner priced the items the same or cheaper, he said.

He told police he was not paying attention when he checked out the item on May 8 and that he hadn't checked his receipt to see if the price was cheaper before leaving the store, according to the police report. He denied having switched the barcodes in the other incidents. Police have also linked a credit card he used for his eBay account to one used in one of the April 20 incidents, according to the report.

Supervising Deputy District Attorney Cindy Hendrickson has said although the thefts for which Langenbach is charged only amount to about $1,000, the sophisticated nature of the crimes and presence of hundreds of boxes of the toys in his home -- with a number of assembled and staged for photographing -- led the DA's office to file the felony charges, she said. If convicted on all current counts, he could receive a maximum five-year sentence.

Langenbach's attorney, Thomas Greenberg, said he could not comment at this time on his client's decision not to take a plea deal.


Like this comment
Posted by Jake
a resident of another community
on Aug 14, 2012 at 7:25 pm

Great excuse! I hope he gets convicted and he gets max sentance allowed for actualy attempting to excuse his crimes. Another rich educated crook who thinks they are above the law and his high priced lawyer will get him a slap on the wrist.
Seems he has too much money and ego and not enough integrity to step up and take responsibility for his actions.

Like this comment
Posted by Emerson
a resident of another community
on Aug 14, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Anyone else think the mug shot looks just like the creep on the TV show Lost? Obviously guilty. Can I volunteer for jury duty?

Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 14, 2012 at 7:43 pm

It's called self-delusion. And it has a rich history.

Like this comment
Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Aug 14, 2012 at 8:36 pm

So, his lawyer convinced him to not take the plea bargain.

The lawyer will come out of this with 6 figures, and this idiot will will get far worse than the plea bargain.

I suppose you could justify this on "Darwinism", but aren't lawyers suppose to look out for the best interests of their clients? At least that is what they taught me in school.....

Like this comment
Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 14, 2012 at 10:13 pm

It's a little scary how the way we have set up the incentives for success in America we seem to preferentially reward psychopaths and criminals, and then they rise to the top and set the tone for the whole country ... and no one had to fire a shot from a hostile country either ... kind of sad.

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Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Aug 14, 2012 at 10:38 pm


Taking Shakespeare's advise from Henry VI would go a long way toward removing the psychopaths and criminals from society ;)

Like this comment
Posted by moi
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 15, 2012 at 7:16 am

Apparently Langenbach received a "gentleman's C" in his logic class at college.

Like this comment
Posted by Overzealous Prosectors
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 15, 2012 at 7:21 am

How enlightening to hear the "Let's give him a fair trial and then hang him" crowd sound off on this story. It is possible, of course, that the prosecutors are right and this mass of charges is justified. It's also possible that this gentleman is guilty of a less serious crime that deserves a lesser punishment. He might even be "guilty" only of making a mistake, as he claims.

What is true in our system is that he is innocent until proven guilty, that he deserves a fair hearing, and that nothing the prosecutors say has been tested in court.

If any of these commenters is called for jury duty in this case, I hope they will be educated by the court on the responsibilities of a "jury of his peers."

Like this comment
Posted by Cid Young
a resident of another community
on Aug 15, 2012 at 10:22 am

"He is probably sick."
That's what my mother told me when a friend got caught taking stuff at Woolworths in the 1950's. I was little, and that was her explanation at the time.

Like this comment
Posted by MemberName
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 15, 2012 at 10:29 am

Yes...I would not be what this "gentleman", as you refer to him, would want on his jury. Most certainly! As I see the facts that PA Online has provided, on this date and on the previous PA Online reporting of this 'gentleman', and at that time, readers were able to view the eBay account as it was showing all the active ebay auctions. I'll try to find the link to the original article and post it here, later. He was selling only 'rare' or hard to find LEGO sets. What is this 'gentleman' with the title of VP doing selling LEGO items he has been seen on TARGET footage switching barcodes?

Innocent Gentleman<?

Like this comment
Posted by Karen
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 15, 2012 at 11:50 am

Hmmmm... if "he switched the barcodes out of curiosity, to see if it really worked" then why didn't he check the receipt when he left the store to see if it worked??!! Surely that would have been utmost on his mind at the time!

Like this comment
Posted by Gethin
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 15, 2012 at 12:18 pm

Although innocent until proven otherwise based on the police story and his pitiful excuses I can't see any other result than a guilty verdict. By refusing a plea he is potentially making it worse for himself and wasting our money and time in the process.

Like this comment
Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 15, 2012 at 1:49 pm

If I understand the facts from this report, there is something pathological about this guy's behavior.

A VP st SAP? Stealing LEGOS from retailers by chnaging the bsrcodes? Come on, Give me a break

The Oracle people are likely dancing on the floors of Redwood Shores about this lack of integity, judgement and behavor in a senior executve from its main competitor

Like this comment
Posted by dave
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 15, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Overzealous Prosectors [sic] resident of D/St Francis neighborhood ..."only guilty of making a mistake"??? It seems he made quite a few "mistakes" if the evidence of multiple bar codes and unopened sets of Legos are any criteria.

And he was curious to see if it (switching bar codes) worked? So he tried again and again because he was still curious? The man is delusional as a poster said above.

Like this comment
Posted by Overzealous Prosectors
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 15, 2012 at 4:52 pm

By all means, let's try this case in the media, right here, right now. The prosectors are trying to do just that, which, by the way, will make it much harder to empanel an unbiased jury, if this case does go to trial. Evidence? Until it's tested in court, we have no evidence, only the say so of the police and prosecutors. And we've only heard the prosecutor's version of the gentleman's--yes, gentleman's--story.

I'm glad this individual is making use of his right to a fair trial. It may be that the prosecutors will take another look at the charges and reduce them to be in line with the actual amount of the alleged theft, rather than use a string of assumptions to maximize the charges beyond what the evidence will bear. But we don't know, any more than we can easily figure out this gentleman's mental state, Paul Losch. Much as I like your blogs, I'm not sure you are wise to do psychological analysis based on news reports.

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 15, 2012 at 10:31 pm

He is pathetic.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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