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. mandfkiwsa

    Nothing very unusual here... Some very dumb thieves were apprehended. They sold their stolen wares online, committed thefts where they did not need to purely for egotistical motivations, and were too greedy, arrogant and stupid not to brag about their contempt for the law.

    August 14, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • dave

      I'm not sure I'd call them "dumb." Their scheme worked for ten years, to the tune of at least $900K. What they were was greedy.

      August 14, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. CRH

    I'll bet even these guys paid more taxes than Mitt Romney last year. Sorry, got caught up in the election year furor.

    August 14, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. deutsche001

    Geniuses; make more robbing than I do working and they get paid vacation across the globe. Now they not going to have any bills and still get fed. Sounds like this should be my retirement plan 🙂

    August 14, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Merciful angel

    I forgive Michael and Margaret, they received forgiveness and mercy from me. Now I want Michael and his mother to ask forgiveness from God since I've already forgave these 2 non-believers. May God forgive them for stealing. Jesus you paid the full price of Michael and Margaret's sins as you died on the cross for them. Lord please forgive them they don't know what they're doing. Father, I already forgave my enemies.

    August 14, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • shanghaiman8915

      keep your fn god out of this

      August 14, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • So Sure?

      What makes you so sure they were non believers?

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

      Who do you think you are to be givng mercy and forgiveness to total strangers?

      August 14, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. total non sense

    Dum crooks....everything should have been paid CASH

    August 14, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Saboth

    "CVS for paying for his vacation to Hawaii in February". Well, now you can thank the police for a nice long vacation from freedom.

    August 14, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jennifer

    Now they're going to jails r us...

    August 14, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  8. johnslangster

    Having worked retail for many years, and having chased and restrained quite a few shoplifters in that time.
    Its amazing how you catch them, in the act, and as they try to leave. You yourself witness first hand the entire event and they still deny they stole it, or say the age old classic line, "oh I dont know how that got there, sorry"
    Shoplifters are mentally damaged people, and its always sad that they will end up in jail for something so stupid.

    August 14, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • shanghaiman8915

      How they got away with this for so long is what irks me, I was in retail many years to changing box contents. was this guy houdini

      August 14, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
  9. BipolarQuantumParticle

    I imagine there's tons of firms on Wall Street that would love to give this guy a job. He's already demonstrated he has the (lack of) intelligence to work in that environment.

    August 14, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  10. dongp

    Ain't that a sweet looking pair.

    August 14, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  11. shanghaiman8915

    The dumb ones are the stores how don't you see someone changing contents in box's with all the cameras what was everyone blind. A heads up manager would have busted them a long time ago. And he is bragging the moron does not know to keep his mouth shut.

    August 14, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. PK

    I am kind of impressed.. They don't look like they could spell eBay, let alone operate an account.

    August 14, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  13. sophielaine

    Play time is over!

    August 14, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Cadecker

    thats why i pay everything in cash... and never sign up for stupid loyalty cards.... no paper trail

    August 14, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Maria

      Whatever it takes to put food on the table, the top %1 is getting it all.

      August 14, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Brenda

    Same old story. "Police in Florida..."

    August 14, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
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