Michael and Margaret Pollara (Broward Sheriff's Office)
TAMARAC, Fla. -- A mother and son duo from Tamarac were arrested after stealing more than $2 million in merchandise, with the son responsible for thefts at 31 Toys"R"Us stores in Florida, the Broward Sheriff's Office said Friday.
Michael Ignatius Pollara, 46, used a "box stuffing" method in which he would take a retail item, empty its box and put a more expensive item or items inside. He would then proceed to the cash register and be charged for the less expensive item, authorities said in court documents.
Pollara's routine was to take a big boxed item such as the "Chuck Dix Stunt Set" or the "Big Adventure Raceway," hide those products somewhere inside the store and refill the box with high ticket, highly desirable goods such as LEGO merchandise, Leap Pads and software, BSO Detective William Upegui Jr. said in an arrest affidavit.
Since Toys"R"Us began investigating on May 9, Pollara has been in 139 of the chain's stores across 27 states, from Arizona to Maine, and has spent $6,738 at them, according to the affidavit.
He is responsible for multiple thefts at four stores in Broward County, the affidavit says.
The task force that stopped Pollara and his mother, 70-year-old Margaret Pollara, said at a Friday press conference that the son has been stealing for over 10 years from various retailers, including Kmart, Sears, Walmart, Target and Macy's. They estimated that he made a million dollars over the last several years.
He told detectives that he made so much money from just CVS stores alone that he took in enough cash to fund a nice vacation to Hawaii, authorities said.
"It was one of his goals to visit all 50 states and commit thefts in all 50 states, which he was very proud of -- he did succeed," BSO Sgt. Rich Rossman said.
Michael Pollara faces 13 counts for grand theft, felony petit theft, dealing in stolen property, criminal conspiracy and organized scheme to defraud, according to court records. He was being held in the Broward County Main Jail on $318,500 bond Friday, according to online BSO records.
Margaret Pollara faces six counts for grand theft, petit theft, criminal conspiracy and organized scheme to defraud, court records say. She was being held at the Paul Rein Detention Facility on $29,100 bond Friday, according to the BSO.
(Edward B. Colby and Willard Shepard, NBC Miami)