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. Katz For Dogs

    We all have our special calling in life.

    August 14, 2012 at 11:53 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Blondie

    I love it! Stealing toys from cheapo trash stores like CVS in all 50 states as a life goal! Brilliant!

    August 15, 2012 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Mali

      Cheapo trash stores? WTH is wrong with you??

      August 16, 2012 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Cynthia Joyce

    WHY haven't you mentioned the shooting and the Family Research Center??? Is it okay to shoot Christians?

    August 15, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • anahouni

      what r u talking about; bible girl

      August 16, 2012 at 12:50 am | Report abuse |
    • anahouni

      "Is it okay to shoot Christians?" how did christianity became part of this toy-theft story....what through a vision!

      August 16, 2012 at 12:53 am | Report abuse |
  4. ll

    Really? Why not put that much energy into something that is legal, responsible and supports a self worth.
    Ripping off from cheapo trash stores (as stated above) and then selling these stolen items and not paying taxes is not brilliant, hes an idiot that is going to jail and will cost the government a great deal of money. I dont shop at big box stores but I do not steal from them, I have morals. Who cares if other people want to shop there. He is a scam artist and how sad and pathetic if anyone considers that a life goal.

    August 15, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • krudkeeper

      I'll tell you why; something legal and responsible is less profitable than stealing over $900,000.00.

      August 15, 2012 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Joe

    They were not using hi-tech. Not guilty

    August 15, 2012 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ll

    Yes,
    I could make 900,000 a year stealing from people. It is wrong to do that. Who doesn't want to be rich, but reality is that you work hard, support your family and live within your means. The amount of energy that is put into illegal work is mind blowing, They could have directed this energy into a very profitable legal business. My guess is they spent all the money on useless stuff, or drugs, or more illegal activity. Probably did not not donate to needy causes.......
    And now, off to jail to be a burden to society. Nice plan. Oh I did not grow up privileged by any means and I grew up in a tough area. Guess what , I put myself through college, and now work and am a responsible member of society.

    August 15, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Duece Dropper

      II. Well...................... You are awesome

      August 15, 2012 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ll

    no not awesome.
    Just living life as a responsible person.

    August 15, 2012 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Southern mom

    test

    August 16, 2012 at 12:21 am | Report abuse |
  9. joey fortnyer

    That is the Mother and Son.
    Makes you wonder where the Father is and what his story could tell.

    August 16, 2012 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
  10. Joe

    He should be stealing makeup for his old girl. She is one ugly old hag!

    August 16, 2012 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
  11. DaveYoung

    Did they nick a toy in all 57 states ? Barack needs to know.

    August 16, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  12. Nickolaus Santa

    He must have missed out on toys as a kid. Probably his father never gave any toy so he is making up on all those years that he's missed out.

    August 16, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Marquess

    its obama again. his stimulus forced men like this to steal from toy stores. i think it is disgusting- our children have to grow up in a timew when they think they can get harry potter toys only to open the box to find off brand? OBAMA IS RUINIGN OUR COUNTRY AND ITS TIME WE CHRISTIANS STAND UP. he is a home wrecker and slept with my wife. i will vote for john kerry in the upcoming election. i may not know much but i know obama smells like tuna fish

    August 16, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • vatoloke

      "i may not know much but..."

      You didn't have to say it, we know just from your lack of correct punctuation, spelling and just plain ignorant statements about Obama. Your screen name should be more like Marqass than Marquess.

      August 16, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. nellie g. cabo

    Very disgusting MOTHER / SON relationship .

    August 16, 2012 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Kell Brigan

    WHO CARES? An innocent man was shot by a terrorist planning to kill at least 15 people, and you're reporting about TOYS???

    August 17, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
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