Toy thief wanted to rip off stores in all 50 states, police say
Michael Pollara, 46, and Margaret Pollara, 70, were tracked down because of their use of a rewards card, police say.
August 14th, 2012
01:43 PM ET

Toy thief wanted to rip off stores in all 50 states, police say

Police in Florida say they have busted a mother-and-son team whose goal was to steal thousands of items from toy stores in every state and then sell them online for millions of dollars.

Police say Michael Pollara, 46, and Margaret Pollara, 70, would go into toy stores and pick out big boxes containing cheap toys, then replace the cheap contents with more expensive toys including Harry Potter Lego sets, Leap Pads, and InnoTabs. They would then go to the checkout line, where cashiers would ring up the box for the marked price, not knowing that inside were toys worth hundreds or thousands of dollars, according to police.

"(Michael Pollara) made it a goal of his to steal from all 50 states within one year, which he was very proud of," Broward Sheriff's Office Sgt. Rick Rossman said during a press conference.

The pair had stolen merchandise worth at least thousands of dollars from 139 Toys R Us locations across 27 states, according to the arrest affidavit. And then there were all the other stores, including Kmart, CVS and other retailers they had hit.

"This is without a doubt the No. 1 prolific booster that we’ve ever come across," Rossman said. "He basically is a one-man show. His mother participated in some of the thefts."

Police opened an investigation that involved undercover surveillance and tracking of the pair after a theft report was made in May by a Toys R Us store in Boynton Beach, Florida.

When officers began investigating the theft case, they noticed a purchase was made with a loyalty/rewards card. And that's what did Pollara in. When police looked up the rewards card they traced it back to a woman and noticed several purchases in a number of states.  Police then began tracking all of the purchases made using the loyalty card around the country as well as at the 31 Toys R Us stores in Florida.

"Michael traveled the entire country doing this.  He was a one-man wrecking crew," Rossman said. "He called it the art of stealing."

Pollara sold most of the items on eBay, police said. His records from the online auction site and PayPal show that he sold the items under accounts named LineMart or Buymart-USA. Those two accounts alone took in a total of $909,000.

That money was apparently used to travel around the country.

"He wanted to personally thank CVS for paying for his vacation to Hawaii in February," Rossman said, reporting what Pollara said during questioning. "(Shoplifting) supports his travel around the world."

A spokeswoman for the Broward County Sheriff's Office said that when police showed Pollara a map of all of the places they had connected him to, he told them the map wasn't right - that he had hit more stores than that.

"He's been stealing like this every day for 10 years," Rossman told reporters. "For 10 years this is what he's done."

Police began following the pair, and an unknown man present during the thefts, as they hit different stores. The pair was arrested on Thursday. Michael Pollara was charged with one count of dealing in stolen property, five counts of grand theft, four counts of criminal conspiracy and two counts of felony petit theft, according to the arrest report. His mother is facing one count of organized scheme to defraud, two counts of grand theft, two counts of criminal conspiracy, and one count of theft. Police have not yet arrested the third person.

The pair remain in jail. It is unclear if either has hired an attorney or had one appointed by the court.

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Filed under: Crime • Florida • U.S.
soundoff (294 Responses)
  1. saywhat

    Quite an ambitious venture, I must say.
    Amusing since it did not involve any violence. And that is something folks.

    August 14, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  2. banasy©

    Holy moley!
    I don't even know what to say...
    I'd like to visit all 50 states too, but wow...just wow...
    The guy is unrepentant and *laughs* about it??
    Nice loss prevention policies thease stores have!
    Time for an update!

    August 14, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • J1000

      Yes, CVS is robbed on a daily basis. Mostly from grab and go thugs stealing what I have been told Alcohol, hair products, meds.
      One time a female manager was dragged out to the exit by a goon that she asked if she could help him. One day someone will be hurt, but the company doesn't seem to care about there employees safety. No security.

      August 14, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. BOMBO ©

    Hi kids.

    You guys don't get the Trailor Park Boys in the US. This sounds like a scheme that Ricky, Julian and Bubbles would come up with. Except there would be guns, dope, and stolen shopping carts involved.

    And Horshack is dead. Wow. I forgot that guy existed.

    August 14, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy¬©

      What, Bombo?
      Arnold Horshack is dead?

      August 14, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy¬©

      Okay, just read it...only 63, of a heart attack.
      How sad that his mother outlived him.
      No mother should outlive her child.
      My sympathy to her and his family and friends.

      August 14, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  4. sistersolja

    woah!!! this is sad. ūüôĀ Stealing from the children.

    August 14, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • DB

      No, the kids didn't have the toys until the parents purchased them on ebay.

      August 14, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • baycap

      Don't forget to read the article first.

      August 14, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Auto Correct

      Wrong – stealing from corporations. Children actually get the long end of the stick in this case because the thieves can sell their goods at a discount on eBay since they paid less than the actual sticker price.

      August 14, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mister Jones

      @sistersolja – stealing from Toys R Us, is NOT stealing from children. ... Retail stores have insurance. He was making a profit from the items that he sold on EBay, but it sounds like the people got what they paid for, so they were happy.

      August 14, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bnutty

      But the Toys r Us charges more money to cover thier losses, so the parents who but in stores lose out, right?

      August 14, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • BOMBO ¬©

      woah!!! this is sad. Stealing from large faceless corporations.

      Large faceless corporations with insurance.

      Okay, stealing from insurance companies. Who raise everyone's rates to cover the losses.

      So – stealing from you and me.

      And would you people give sistersolja a break, she was just making an observation that stealing toys, on principle, is pretty low.

      August 14, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Wow

    Look at her hair!! All of that stealing and she didnt take one bottle of conditioner. Sad

    August 14, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Rick

    Just *visiting* 50 States is hard enough, but to steal from all of them? That would be some feat (no political jokes please...)!

    August 14, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jesmond

    The complexity of this goal is almost impressive enough to dismiss the fact what they are doing is wrong...

    August 14, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. lj56

    what about all these people on ebay, that recieved stolen items, is ebay going to reimburse people, cause they are going to be in jail we hope for some time

    August 14, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Portland tony

      I'm sure the stores have written the losses off as "inventory shrinkage". Who's going to reclaim a used toy?

      August 14, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sully

      You "hope" the people who bought the toys on eBay will be in jail for "some time?" What's wrong with you?

      August 14, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  9. avoiceinmyhead

    Stupid! Rewards card? Did they use credit card too? If they're smart enough to pay with cash, why would they use a reward card.

    August 14, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Portland tony

    So does he qualify for a Ginness record or something. A good lawyer, a couple of years and he can continue his quest for fame and fortune!

    August 14, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  11. DB

    Sounds to me like Toys-R-US should be hiring them in their security department to train stores in 50 states what to look out for. These two found a flaw in the system and had executed the almost perfect crime. Their reward should be a good positoin in secuirty or training others in security procedures, not locking them up. No one got hurt, and TRU and others need to beef up their security.

    August 14, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Remember to hire the thief next time your car/home gets robbed, as well.

      August 14, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • baycap

      what's a "positoin in secuirty"?

      August 14, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ed T Duck

    Wow. *NOT* a good hair day.

    August 14, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ed T Duck

    >Uses a rewards card.
    >Gets tracked down.
    SMH

    August 14, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  14. MrHungWell

    He will be rewarded some serious time......idiots!

    August 14, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. cwfusto

    This article should read : " Government and Politicians steal from all 50 states to make millions."

    August 14, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tombo$

      Wow, they do not look like Thieves at all!

      August 14, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
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