Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Deputies: Fla. woman, adult son stole $2M in toys

MIAMI — When it came to shopping at Toys "R" Us stores, a Florida man and his mom were what you might call loyal customers.

Michael, 46, and Margaret Pollara, 70, visited 139 Toys "R" Us stores in 27 states, including California, Hawaii and New York, over the course of months. Michael Pollara wanted to get a deal on all those purchases, so he used a store card that racked up rewards for repeat customers.

That Toys "R" Us loyalty card, authorities said, is what helped unravel a ruse that made the Pollaras hundreds of thousands of dollars in illicit profits from stealing toys during those shopping trips.

"He considered it an art," one of the investigators, Broward County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Rich Rossman, told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. "The art of stealing."

The mother and her son, who is from outside of Fort Lauderdale, were arrested last week on fraud and other charges. Margaret Pollara was released from the Broward County Jail after posting bail, but records show her son, held on at least $300,000 bail on more severe charges, remained in jail Monday.

They are accused of stealing more than $2 million worth of toys over the course of months through a ploy authorities call "box stuffing." It worked like this, investigators said:

They would go in the stores and find inexpensive toys contained in large boxes. Then they'd toss out the cheap toys and find much more expensive toys to put in the boxes instead. So when they went through the checkout line, a clerk would not realize that a box was disguising an entirely different — and more expensive — toy inside.

The stolen toys included $150 Lego sets and $99 Leapster Pads, investigators said.

The pair would discard the cheap contents somewhere around the store. Margaret Pollara often worked as a lookout, according to deputies.

Then the Pollaras sold the big-ticket toys online, an arrest affidavit shows.

Authorities tracked the two for months, watching them supposedly steal from stores around Florida and later ship packages of toys.

Michael Pollara had more than $900,000 in eBay and PayPal accounts, according to an arrest report.

Authorities began following the two in May after a Toys "R" Us employee in South Florida noticed that several large Lego boxes were missing, even though she had seen them on the shelf earlier that morning.

Store video showed Michael Pollara carrying the Lego box in the toy aisle, but the video did not show him actually removing the contents.

He used a Toys "R" Us rewards card for his purchase, which helped authorities track his moves around the country.

Deputies: Fla. woman, adult son stole $2M in toys 08/13/12 [Last modified: Monday, August 13, 2012 11:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa lands Super Bowl in 2021

    Bucs

    NFL owners have voted unanimously to move Super Bowl LV to Tampa in Feb. 2021. This will be the fifth time Tampa has hosted and the first time since 2009.

    Mike Tomlin celebrates with LaMarr Woodley and Troy Polamalu after the Steelers beat the Cardinals in 


Super Bowl XLIII  on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. [Times files (2009)
  2. Spacewalking astronauts pull off urgent repairs at International Space Station (w/video)

    Space

    CAPE CANAVERAL — Spacewalking astronauts completed urgent repairs at the International Space Station on Tuesday, replacing equipment that failed three days earlier and restoring a backup for a vital data-relay system.

    In this NASA provided frame from video, NASA astronaut Jack Fischer works to install antennas at the International Space Station while astronaut Peggy Whitson, not pictured, works on repairs Tuesday, May 23, 2017. [NASA via AP]
  3. Forecast: Severe storms, gusty winds for Tampa Bay as cold front arrives Wednesday

    Weather

    Muggy and dry conditions will prevail across the Tampa Bay region ahead of a cold front that could produce gusty winds and potentially severe storms late Wednesday.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]
  4. For starters: Rays vs. Angels, with Cobb leading the way

    Blogs

    Rays veteran RHP Alex Cobb had a lot to say Monday about the team needing to focus on getting past .500 and building a winning record.

    And after the disappointing 3-2 loss that …

    Alex Cobb will start tonight when the Rays play the Angels.
  5. Tampa murder suspect told police he wanted to stop neo-Nazi roommates from committing acts of domestic terrorism

    Criminal

    TAMPA — After he admitted to shooting two roommates and led police to their dead bodies, Devon Arthurs said he committed the killings to prevent the pair from carrying out terrorist acts, a prosecutor wrote in a court filing.

    Devon Arthurs, 18, told police  he shared neo-Nazi beliefs with his roommates, Jeremy Himmelman and Andrew Oneschuk, until he converted to Islam, according to a police report.
[Tampa Police]