Thieves around the country are capitalizing on the popularity of the plastic toy sets, whose enduring success was accelerated by the success of "The Lego Movie" this year.
Police in Arizona last week reported making arrests connected to an alleged Lego theft ring. Police said they discovered $200,000 worth of Lego sets in the home of suspect Troy Koehler, 40, as well as in storage units he had rented. "His garage was filled from floor to ceiling, front to back," Phoenix police officer James Holmes said at a news conference.
Other grown-ups charged in the Arizona Lego thefts allegedly were responsible for walking out of Toys R Us stores in the Phoenix area with $40,000 in Lego sets. Police said they would remove theft-deterrent devices and then either hide the sets under other merchandise or in gift bags. Their alleged thievery was captured on store surveillance video, police said.
Police said Koehler had the equivalent of three truckloads of Lego sets after buying them from the theft ring for about one-quarter of their actual prices. He was selling sets online for up to $500 apiece.
Sets Stolen on Long Island, Australia
In New York last week, a 53-year-old woman was charged with stealing about 800 Lego sets worth nearly $60,000 from a storage facility on Long Island. Nassau County Police said Gloria Haas tried to sell the Lego sets on eBay (EBAY). Most of them were recovered.
"August is a traditional month when next year's models are rolled out, and the rush to sell last year's inventory heats up," says John Ganotis, founder of CreditCardInsider.com. "For instance, General Motors (GM) promoted Chevrolet sales with a 'Love It or Return It' campaign that allowed customers to return new cars within 60 days of purchase. GM's no-haggle equivalent was called 'Total Confidence Pricing.' Cars were offered at about the same price GM gave its employees." Ganotis says that consumers can expect these and similar programs and specials this month.
Whether you're shopping for a pre-K or collegiate living, back to school sales are your best friend. "Many stores have already cut prices on supplies by up to 30 percent and are offering [buy one, get one] deals now," says DealScience.com, which delivers shopping intelligence. "Department stores like Kohl's (KSS) and Target (TGT), and office supply stores like Office Depot (ODP) and Staples (SPLS), are among those that have great seasonal savings." DealScience says some of the best savings on back to school goods are at office supply stores. Shop online for the best prices.
If you live where it stays hot, now's the time to take advantage of summer clearance sales. Of course, you can shop for next summer's wardrobe, too. Expect to find deals on sandals, tanks, swimwear, shorts and airy maxi dresses both online and at brick and mortar stores.
If you live in a cooler climate and buying summer duds at this time of year doesn't appeal, don't fret. Loads of retailers start fall promotions at the end of July and run them for several months. "Stores like Lucky Brand, Levi's and Lee offer up to 80 percent off before the summer is even over, so now is the time to purchase that new pair of jeans," says DealScience. "Gap (GPS) and Old Navy often cut prices on school styles by 40 percent." Check for specials on outerwear, boots, scarves, cardigans, denim and even belts.
According to DealNews.com, mainstream laptops are at rock bottom prices. The site says you can find a notebook for under $400 "with a 15" to 16" screen, at least 4GB of RAM, at least a 500GB hard drive, and Intel's (INTC) Haswell Core i5 processor, which is the company's mainstream chip capable of handling everything from HD movie streaming to casual gaming."
"Last month, brand-name 42" LCD HDTVs hit their lowest price of the year, coming in at an impressive $299, which is roughly $40 under 2014's average for this size category," reports DealNews. "Meanwhile, off-brand models of the same size, such as those from Insignia, Sceptre and Sanyo, hit $250, which is the best price we've seen all year for this category." The site says prices will continue to drop in August and -- perhaps -- through November.
Linens are a hot buy for both dorm-dwellers and newlyweds. With an uptick in both come August, retailers have blankets, sheets, pillows, shams, duvets, towels and washcloths marked down.
Wine grapes are typically harvested in early through late fall, which means that wineries all over the world are putting last year's bottles on sale to make room for the new stuff. Subscribe to your local wineries' newsletters and Facebook pages to stay up to date on specials. Wineries, grocers and major retailers often provide a discount when you buy at least six bottles at a time.