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. JG

    It's good to have goals.......

    August 14, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. obverse side

    But if they were bankers, there would be no evidence, right?

    August 14, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Hitman

    Hey, the boss wants to know if we have to return the stuff that we bought from them?

    August 14, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  4. william

    One thing this article does not mention is employs of the corporations stealing stuff to. Its a lot easier for an employ to walk out of the store with something than it is for someone to walk into the store pick something up and walk out of the store with it.

    August 14, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. davidillo

    They have interchangeable lips.. Both should receive 50 years in prison.

    August 14, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ORChuck

    The nerve of them stealing and expecting loyalty rewords for what they stole. It is very sad to see people with such low morals.

    August 14, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Doh!

    Time to play hide the Lego Log with your new cell mate..he oughta catch on quickly

    August 14, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Grinch

    A live reenacting of "The Grinch that Stole Christmas"

    August 14, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Forrestal

    Ahhh, Florida: The angriest, most corrupt state in the Union. Can we sell it to pay off the national debt.

    August 14, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bluejeans

      They stone from a good many States – not just Florida. I'm from North of the Mason-Dixon line. You must be from (fill in the blank).

      August 14, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aeromechanic

      If a potential buyer balks, we can throw in Texas to sweeten the pot.

      August 14, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      Why are you knocking Florida...apparently there were 30 other states that couldn't catch these two.

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

    The illegal version of what toy stores do to us.

    August 14, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Miffer, Biffer, and Boo

    Too funny.

    August 14, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Johnny

    So what-? who cares how much they stole, or who they've stolen it from? Not me.
    It's bad, yes, but nothing at all compared to the crimes being committed each day by Wall Street, that are never prosecuted.
    They steal 500 Billion and have to pay a 100 million fine with no admission of wrong-doing.
    Let these people steal, hell, let everyone steal whatever they want, from whoever they want, it's already okay for a small portion of our populace to do every day-
    If I'm on this jury, there's no way I would convict them for stealing what amounts to a drop in the drop of the bucket.
    Corzine stole 2 BILLION, where's the investigation? The US government just closed all investigations into Goldman Sachs. Oh, and Jamie Dimon and a few missing hundred millions of dollars...

    No, no way would I ever vote to convict a citizen of any crimes that the elite class of Americans commit each and every day with immunity.

    August 14, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Loretta

      So true, the real criminals are sitting behind their desks wearing Armani suits.

      August 14, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • jt

      How's that occupy wallstreet working out for you?

      August 14, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nate

      Well then he should have stolen from Goldman-Sachs and the other fat bankers on Wall St. Besides is this helping the situation by him stealing from other places? What if he came and stole from you...would that be OK?

      August 14, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • 111Dave111

      Sorry Johnny, every theft is a theft, no excuses. These three should serve a lot of time. If you have evidence of other thefts, please blow the whistle.
      Not saying you're wrong about:
      "nothing at all compared to the crimes being committed each day by Wall Street, that are never prosecuted.
      They steal 500 Billion and have to pay a 100 million fine with no admission of wrong-doing.... Corzine stole 2 BILLION, where's the investigation? The US government just closed all investigations into Goldman Sachs. Oh, and Jamie Dimon and a few missing hundred millions of dollars..."
      In fact send a letter wrapped aroung the quote I took above from your post, to all of your representatives: US Congress, Senate, & President. Be your own lobbiest. Don't be revengeful or suggest others shouldn't be prosecuted.

      August 14, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  13. TheMovieFan

    White Southerners who have no personal responsibility.

    August 14, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Snoop Lion

    Thank you for you're profound and insightful contribution. Nice to see someone striving to make the world a better place for all 🙂

    August 14, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ashley

    Before I even read the story I guessed the thiefs were from Florida, and they are. I swear there is something in the water in that state.

    August 14, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bluejeans

      "Michael traveled the whole country doing this......" The story doesn't indicate their home State. It indicates which State they were apprehended in. DO MOST OF YOU NOT READ ANYTHING?

      August 14, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • uysfl

      Perhaps you should know every single Floridian before making your generalist statements. I could go as far as to say every girl named Ashley has punani that smells like Tuna fish however that would be a generalist statement and not judging each individual on a case by case basis. Colorado has more mass shooting sprees than any other state so is everyone from Colorado a mass murderer? Have some forethought next time before showing your ignorance.

      August 14, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
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