TAMARAC, Fla. -- A mother and son duo from Tamarac were arrestedafter stealing more than $2 million in merchandise, with the sonresponsible for thefts at 31 Toys"R"Us stores in Florida, the BrowardSheriff's Office said Friday.
Michael Ignatius Pollara, 46, used a "box stuffing" method in whichhe would take a retail item, empty its box and put a more expensive itemor items inside. He would then proceed to the cash register and becharged for the less expensive item, authorities said in courtdocuments.
Pollara's routine was to take a big boxed item such as the "Chuck DixStunt Set" or the "Big Adventure Raceway," hide those productssomewhere inside the store and refill the box with high ticket, highlydesirable goods such as LEGO merchandise, Leap Pads and software, BSODetective William Upegui Jr. said in an arrest affidavit.
Since Toys"R"Us began investigating on May 9, Pollara has been in 139of the chain's stores across 27 states, from Arizona to Maine, and hasspent $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-oldMargaret Pollara, said at a Friday press conference that the son hasbeen stealing for over 10 years from various retailers, including Kmart,Sears, Walmart, Target and Macy's. They estimated that he made amillion dollars over the last several years.
He told detectives that he made so much money from just CVS storesalone 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 inall 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 todefraud, according to court records. He was being held in the BrowardCounty Main Jail on $318,500 bond Friday, according to online BSOrecords.
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 bondFriday, according to the BSO.