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. Chuck Steak

    POS, both of them!

    August 14, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. MoreDetails

    I would like to know more on how they can open a case of toys and put other toys in there and buy that case without a cashier looking in the box seeing as it was opened? Confused?

    August 14, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • STLBroker

      A roll of tape in his pocket perhaps?

      August 14, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Greg W

    She's having a bad hair day.

    August 14, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Merciful angel

    O Lord, please be merciful to Michael and Margaret, please O Father I know that you are the only one to show your love to them. God I ask that you help these 2 unbelievers to turn from their unbelief, O Holy Spirit please convict the 2 sinners of their sin and judgement. Mercy triumphs over judgement and death. Please Father have mercy I ask this in Jesus name. Amen

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


      August 14, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hitman

      If they vote liberal, Obama will ask for mercy in order to get their votes!

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

    Michael has "crazy eye"....just sayin'

    August 14, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • cinque55

      Hitman is confused. Mercy is what Huckabee, the hard core right wing candidate, gave to convicted felons in Arkansas. Get your story right!

      August 14, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. SUVsAreEvil

    Wow.... He's made more than me in the past 10 years. And I went to school.

    August 14, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • TODAY

      LOL...I went to many schools and now I do not have job....

      August 14, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. midogs2

    They sure didn't use the preceeds for cosmetic surgery...................................

    August 14, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Hitman

    So if some of the stuff does not work, the boss wants to know who do we return it to for a refund?

    August 14, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  9. god is great and your an idiot

    Get out of here and don't come back.

    August 14, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. MYMYMY

    This is how the Tea Party proposes paying off the national debt.

    August 14, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. DB1

    I find it perfect that his greed with what exposed the whole thing. It is not enough to steal it but he used his loyality card as well and that tied him to other crimes. Reminds me of while I was in college working at Best Buy we heard a story of an employee scamming gift cards but then using their employee discount when they redeemed the cards. Without that it would have been almost impossible to tie the gift card redemption back to a person.

    August 14, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Sandeep Singh

    Hard for me to feel sorry for these corporations that get rich off the cheap labor exploited in other countries then jack up the price of the product 100% for the consumer.

    August 14, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • cinque55

      Stupid "logic" that seems to justify crime.

      August 14, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. SometimesYes

    Toys R' Us Loyalty Card: Shoplift with us 1000 times, and your next trip to jail is free!

    August 14, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Iamawesome

    I didn't think Gene Simmons needed to steal to make money. I also didn't know he had a 46 year old son.

    August 14, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Gerald

    Nice Toy Story...get it? LOL

    August 14, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Take Luck

      Please don't go into stand up comedy. You'll be eaten alive.

      August 14, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Thanks for the hint. We'd all be too stupid to "get it" otherwise.

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