A 46-year-old Florida man and his 70-year-old mother have been arrested for allegedly stealing more than $2 million worth of toys from 30 Toys R Us stores in Florida.
Michael and Margaret Pollara were arrested on Aug. 9 for grand theft and dealing in stolen property. According to investigators, the pair were involved a scheme called “box stuffing,” when a less-expensive item is removed from a box and replaced with a larger-ticket item. The two would then allegedly place the the items on eBay for sale.
The police first grew aware of the alleged scheme after an employee at a store in Florida noticed several boxes of Legos missing that were present during morning inventory.
After noticing pieces of Lego boxes hidden in the aisle they reviewed video and register activity and determined that no Legos were sold that day. But, the store employee found that all of the Harry Potter Legos were missing. On that evening, nearly $900 worth of Legos left the store.
Investigators were able to track items purchased by the Pollaras using a Loyalty/Reward card that showed sales at 139 different Toys R’ Us stores in 27 states. The total paid for the 175 purchases made using the card $6,738. According to the Broward Sheriff’s office, the two stole more than $2 million in toys.
At one point, the police claim they caught the two in the act of box stuffing.
During one incident, they were allegedly seen stuffing Leapster games in a large box and sealing it before having an unidentified man make the purchase, according to investigators.
According to an arrest affidavit for Michael Pollara obtained from the Broward County police department, from July 12 to August 8 he engaged in a “scheme constituting a systematic, ongoing course of conduct with the intent to defraud one or more retail establishments by false or fraudulent, representations or promises and did obtain one or more of such retail establishments.”
The two are in jail facing charges of obtaining property over $50,000 by fraud, grand theft and criminal attempt to solicit. Attempts to reach their lawyer for comment weren’t immediately successful.