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. Patriot

    Gosh, self reliant entrepreneurs out to make a big profit and damn anyone else... I would have thought they would be the new poster couple for the latest G.O.P. poster. Nah, on second thought, white supremacist gunman, Wade Michael Page, "I bought the gun legally" makes a much better poster boy.

    August 14, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. phearis

    "When officers began investigating the theft case, they noticed a purchase was made with a loyalty/rewards card."

    O_O *sighs and shakes head
    Nobody has ever said criminals were smart ..... If you're gonna do a crime like this .... pay cash.

    August 14, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • human

      they are smart or they cannot survive for 10 yrs.
      from this you can tell reward system just got smart and legally steals customer's money since started.

      August 14, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Tim Edwards

    If I were straight, I'd totally wreck that mom in the butt. Since I am not, I'd totally wreck that son in the butt. They are haaawwt!!!

    August 14, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Daniel

    I cant believe he's been doing this for so many years!!

    August 14, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • iWillNotLose

      to think, if he had just used cash and just stopped at say $600, 000...he would have NEVER been caught. Amazes me how he just thought he'd never get caught, ever.

      August 14, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Tr1Xen

    Haha LOSERS!

    August 14, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Woody

    Just makes the things we purchase more expensive ! Lots of shoplifters out there !

    August 14, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Dale

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

    Hmmmm how many more professionals like him and his mother roaming around, I bet thousands.

    These stores that lose all of this merchandise they write it off on their taxes each year, who are the losers we the people are the losers.

    ""Stolen merchandise is the same as a sale to businesses"", If the stores did not have the opportunity to write it off on their taxes,"" counselling that taxpayer sale "", the stores would put a stop to it.

    Wake up America we need tax reform now, write to your congressman and senators and "" complain how businesses are ripping you off letting people shoplift "", to make a sale off of the taxpayer, You.

    August 14, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. WhaaT

    I bet they have a collection of Beanie Babies that they were saving to sell for a double-wide.

    August 14, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Alex

    Oh, the Who-manity?

    August 14, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ac

    Republicans, for sure.

    August 14, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • frunklin

      It was your mother actually.

      August 14, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Milton

    Let me guess, they stored their earnings in Switzerland until they heard about a tax amnesty for transfers. At that point they moved their money to the Grand Cayman and Bermuda. They transferred some stocks in increments less than 10,000 so they didn't have to notify the SEC and then they could claim they don't have any of their money in Swiss bank accounts. It's really a great criminal system don't you think? Oh, wait, I was confusing this with another article. The basic scheme seemed so similar to me.

    August 14, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ac

    PAUL RYAN'S self-reliance plan. I knew it.

    August 14, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Only an idiot would try to turn this into a political debate.

      August 14, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ac

    afterall, they were doing what Wall Street does too the everyday citizen.

    August 14, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tr1Xen

      Um, not quite. Do you have a job with a publicly traded company? If so, thank an investor! How about a 401K? Got one of those? Look in the mirror and smile at Wall Street! And if you don't have a job and you're not building any kind of nest egg, you're probably doing much more damage to society than ANYONE on Wall Street.

      August 14, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Tr1Xen

    "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."

    Apparently this mоrοn didn't understand that "right to remain silent" thing. What an іdіоt. I hope the courts throw the book at both of them. Hopefully that'll be the last vacation they get to take for a long time!

    August 14, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • WhaaT

      In addition to the book, looks like they can use a comb, a razor, some soap, . . . . . .

      August 14, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tr1Xen

      @WhaaT And where he's going, that soap better have a rope attached to it! 😉

      August 14, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Psinnar

      You're jealous of thieves. It reeks from your comment. I repeat, you, are, jealous, of thieves. What does that say about you?

      People with a 401k are not about to thank anyone for money being lost by coke sniffing "investors" in NY.

      What else does it say about YOU, that you blame the jobless or those with a job that are unable to "build a nest egg", for damage greater than real thieves like Madoff and all the other ones that have gotten away with it.

      They are stealing billions, while you blame people stealing toys.

      Get over yourself.

      August 14, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  15. WhaaT

    This story sounds kinda fishy. Have you tried taking a toy out of the packaging that they have today? You need a full set of mechanics tools! Seems like they would have gotten caught a lot sooner.

    August 14, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • overdose

      Have you visited the average Toys R Us lately? The high school help wouldn't care if a M1-Abrams came crashing through the front doors.

      August 14, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rebecca

      Good point!

      August 14, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rebecca

      Good Point! (to WhaaT)

      August 14, 2012 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • martymcmann

      I was just thinking exactly the same thing. I bought my grandson some little action figure at wal mart the other day. It was about 6.00 and it took me over 30 minutes to get it out of the package. Such a cheap little toy that even required screwdrivers to get out.

      August 15, 2012 at 2:08 am | Report abuse |
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