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. Bozobub (doosh)

    hahahaha!

    "He wanted to personally thank CVS for paying for his vacation to Hawaii in February," Rossman said, reporting what Pollara said during questioning.

    August 14, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. iammeyouareyou

    I used to be an undercover store detective and I caught hundreds of shoplifters in my time. You would be amazed at how people rip off stores in ways most people could never even think of. Booster gridles were used by women, esp. fat ladies. Do you how many silk blouses for $100-$200 each can fit in a girdle between a fat ladies legs???? And they waddle right out the door with a long dress on and you can not even notice it. I kid you NOT ! Grand Theft amounts of merchandise. Booster boxes like this guy used were one of the biggest money thefts. But the most exciting/dangerous were the "smash-and-grabs". Guys would steal a van, run it right through the double glass doors in the middle of the night and fill the van with everything they could and peel out. One time they left tire tracks on the wood floor in the main aisle !!

    August 14, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pernicious

      you are a bad bad person hurting on poor people.

      August 14, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ablro

    "I'll get you, my pretty! AND YOUR LITTLE DOG, TOO!!!"

    August 14, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Robert Schleich

    Shrinkage....employees are the worst villans

    August 14, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan Reid

      That is a fact!!!!

      August 14, 2012 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. lol

    CANCER for HEARTLESS thieves........

    August 14, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bb

    I like this guys style. No matter what u say or think about him, he made more money than I will make in a lifetime. I say nice moves.

    August 14, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • phillyboy

      true, at least he isn't living of the 1%ers collecting food stamps and wellfare checks.

      August 14, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. fistface

    Police in America say they have busted a Democrat and Republican team whose goal was to steal trillions of tax dollars from the Middle Class in every State and pocket themselves Billions of dollars.

    August 14, 2012 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. cheapseats2

    They were just trying to redistribute toys.

    August 14, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
  9. noteaparty4me

    What is wrong with white people? Now you people are stealing toys. Murdering people in a theater, Texas A&M, unarmed teen gunned down while only holding Skittles and iced tea, raping kids and Lord knows what else is being covered up like Mitt Romney's taxes. GOP may have a felon as a nominee who knows? You people are standing in line at the latest HATE rally being held at Chic Fil A. What you people need to do is rent the movie, THE HELP. Most whites were much better off when raised by black women in black churches. Some of you may need to return to that tradition. It worked.

    August 14, 2012 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • tweety bird

      how did these two expect to get away with their loot? once the fbi was informed, don't you think the toys would be like painted bills or counterfeit money? they would get caught. also, the remark about black women raising white children by black churches – we know how that is set up. they don't come out as lucky as they were before. also, they start eating ham and hot dogs even if their parents were vegan.

      August 14, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Kix

    Hay, dude had a dream, wanted to steal from all 50 states...he had a career plan going!

    August 14, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  11. cmh01

    He wanted to be a 'job creator'. Why do we always punish success?

    August 14, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ForGoodOfAll

    How did they get away with that for so many years? They need to install more security cameras in the stores.

    August 14, 2012 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. militarymike

    They should send him to Santa's Workshop to make toys for the rest of his life! They won't though. He'll most likely be vacationing in lovely Pembroke Pines for the next 5-10 years.

    August 14, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
  14. summer

    What a dimwit to use a rewards card!! Of course, the police would eventually track him down..He should have left his id at the door!! Duh!!!

    August 14, 2012 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. herloss

    Still can't get over the stupid names these morons created for their "theiving business".... They should have called it "Rip-off Mart" or "Moron-Mart" – something much more inventive, lol. I just cannot stop laughing! Using a rewards card... Those cards are THE WAY to track YOUR BUSINESS by anyone wishing to do so. Seems like just about every other day I read in the news about some theif pulling a scam – from the pair of inbreds like these to our local Trustee's and Clerks embezzeling from the County, State – The People. Crooks.... everywhere.

    August 14, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
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