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. naplesfotoguy

    I wouldn't be surprised to see this guy change the price tag on his court appointed attorney and switch it with a much pricier attorney, and end up with Alan Derschowitz representing him.

    August 14, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  2. BobZemko

    Did they arrest them with toy guns?

    August 14, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. George Cantstandya

    I am glad his last name is not Cohen , then all the anti Semites would be on this blog; Probably making jokes about the loyalty card.

    August 14, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Al Juwa

      or if he would have been a maritinez you would be reading all anti mexican comments. regardless of whether he is cuban, puerto rican salvadorian or any other hispanic.

      August 14, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. booboot1947

    They would have been perfect GOP candidates for the top two posts.

    August 14, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eat mor chik'n

      I see that you've taken this wonderful opportunity to make a complete bozo out of yourself in public.

      August 14, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cando

      Leftovers from the Democratic party. They had an over supply.

      August 14, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • cynthia

      eat more just showed YOUR foolishness. First, the poster wasn't using real public embarrassment, but that's just to show your no genius. Second, both sides make political comments on non-political pages. I've seen the right make some pretty sleezy comments and some inane, embarrassing comments...make fun of the First FAMILY, asking for birth certificates, transcripts, etc. THAT'S really dumb. You are obviously an extremely closed minded person who has no problem with chic-f-la donating milltions to hate groups...and that IS a fact. sheesh

      August 14, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. catady

    thats all they get in prison is a few years? There is no justice!! This jerk was prloud he stole all that merchandise. He and his mother are losers!!!

    August 14, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Delayed Karma

      He took mostly toys, right? Plus most all the other goods he took were made in China. After handling all that stuff, he is sure to contract some form of disease from all the toxins. Give him some time and he'll be sprouting another head and his testes will fall off.

      August 14, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. nokoolaidcowboy

    Santa Claus is not pleased.

    August 14, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Highly Motivated

    Why don't they just make the boxes the toys come in more tamper proof?

    August 14, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. rollon

    what a gean pool...

    August 14, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • georjetset

      Are u kidding?!? LOL, the fool writes "What a gean pool", and misspells 'gene'...this is funny, and usually don't care about a simple misspelled word.

      August 14, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  9. davidillo

    Wow.. they have interchangeable lips...

    August 14, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  10. noteaparty4me

    I saw this couple in line at Chic Fil A on August 1 at that hate rally.

    August 14, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bozobub

    Oh, my. Momma is kinda scary-lookin'. Are those banjos I hear?!

    August 14, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Howard

    Wow.. Did I read that right, the guy has been doing this scam for TEN YEARS..?..

    August 14, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. abadfish4u

    We are all scewed by usa politcal system. If all thieves started selling weed we could decrimalize it tax it grow it smoke it survive government.Grab a doobie or bluntt & stand up for your rights. Holster your weapons whatever they may be & do what is right.Average people rule

    August 14, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Coflyboy

    I say: Hang 'em high!

    August 14, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Al Zimmer

    And we are quick to shoot Sikhs and deport hard working immigrants so white trash like these folks can be around and make this country great! What a great (hypocrite) society we have become.

    August 14, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
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