A young French man named Louis came home one day in 2018 and saw a small red plastic brick sitting in his driveway. Right away, he knew something was wrong. Dive into the world of AFOLs — Adult Fans of Lego — and a crime that pitted two childhood friends against one another:

As months passed with no progress on the case, Louis began trying to solve the crime himself. Late at night he would chat on Discord with 13 of his AFOL friends from around the world: gamers, students, chess players, professionals. Acting as Lego detectives, they crafted a list of suspects and pored over it for motivations and clues. Maybe it had been an avid collector who prized Louis’ Clone Scout Walker so much he was willing to break in to get it? Or perhaps a member of the Polish Lego gang suspected of robbing French toy stores was now targeting Lego influencers? They scoured websites in the lucrative Lego secondary market — Brick Link, Brick Economy, Brick Picker — searching for serial numbers that matched the stolen sets and checked garage sales around Paris. “It’s very exhausting,” Louis says, “because you have thousands and thousands and thousands of sellers.”

They found nothing. But they did reach one conclusion: This was not just a crime about money. The thieves left behind other valuables in Louis’ house, and the destruction of his builds seemed too violent, too targeted. The smashed sets, the dismembered Minifigs: It felt more like a massacre than a burglary. This, Louis and his fellow sleuths decided, was a crime of passion. As Jehan Mesbah, one of Louis’ friends, tells me, “This had to be about vengeance.”