Toys R Them

Thomas Veil

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Feb 14, 2004
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."...

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."
I don't know how these two idiots got away with this for so long. Even a lot of cheap toys come in boxes with cellophane windows. It's not like it's easy to pull a switcheroo and not have it noticed.

These two aren't getting anything from Santa this year. :p


macrumors Penryn
Jul 11, 2003
I worked retail many years ago. Security was always more worried about employees than they were of customers stealing.

question fear

macrumors 68020
Apr 10, 2003
The "Garden" state
I worked retail many years ago. Security was always more worried about employees than they were of customers stealing.
Bingo. And chances are the most "loss prevention" education anyone got was a 5 minute lecture during a sales meeting once every two months.

When I worked for Best Buy in college, the whole store got chewed out because someone walked into the store, disconnected a small flat screen tv, shoved it IN HIS PANTS, zipped his coat over it and walked out.

What really made the managers steamed is that not only did the sales staff and loss prevention miss someone walking around with a tv in his pants, they also didn't find it remotely odd that it was July and he was wearing a heavy coat all zipped up...


macrumors Core
Jan 4, 2002
I worked retail many years ago. Security was always more worried about employees than they were of customers stealing.
Ain't that the truth. When I worked at Sears all the security cameras were pointing at the registers. Not the blind spots where thieves could stash merchandise.


macrumors 68000
Apr 23, 2008
Pennsylvania, USA
I worked at a Dept store when I was a kid. The female employees had to have clear plastic purses and were watched like hawks. The security team had a mugshot book of known "pros" and would follow them around when they entered the store. It was a constant battle.


macrumors 604
Nov 5, 2009
A big toy store w/ big shelves and lots of them w/ prob one security camera person. Seems like an easy place to hide the toys inside the bigger box while looking like you are just grabbing stuff from the shelfs. I do believe they followed them for a while before actually arresting them. My guess is they knew very well how to hide from TRU cameras and where they had blind spots.

Almost their million dollars seems to have been used for traveling? 'sure'; my guess is most of the money is offshore, they will get out of jail in less than 10yrs and will have their million bucks plus interest. Just rest in jail and workout, eat free food. Better than working 30yrs and getting a crappy retirement.