Man Accused of Wild Theft: $2M in Toys 'R' Us Toys

It all started with 16 Harry Potter Lego sets...

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 24, 2013 11:50 AM CDT

(Newser) – As far as thefts go, it's massive, and as far as suspects go, he's colorful. Police say Ignatius "Michael" Pollara stole some $2 million in toys from Toys 'R' Us stores. The Orlando Sentinel dives into the alleged crime, for which Pollara faces 10 theft-related charges that could net him 30 years in prison:

  • It all started on May 9, 2012: A Boynton Beach, Fla., Toys 'R' Us discovered 16 Harry Potter Lego sets had been stolen. Employees remembered seeing a man hanging out near the Lego shelves. They suspected a "box stuffer."

  • The search for the large box: A box stuffer is someone who, as the name implies, stuffs items (generally pricey) into a larger-boxed item (generally cheap) and then pays only for the big box. An investigator spotted a receipt from the day in question that recounted the sale of a large toy—and during the transaction, the buyer used his Toys 'R' Us rewards card to rack up points.
  • Tracking the rewards card: The investigator dug into the card's history, leading him to Pollara and other rewards cards that had been used at 139 Toys 'R' Us stores in 27 states over about seven months; a subpoena of financial records revealed Pollara had auctioned off $910,000 of goods online. In August, the 47-year-old and his accused accomplices were tailed as they visited 21 central Florida stores in a single day. The next day, he was arrested.
  • The bragging: Sgt. Rich Rossman of Broward Sheriff's Office says a "very proud" Pollara told them "he has stolen so much that he could fill an entire Toys 'R' Us store" and had been working on "the art of stealing" for a decade.
  • What he allegedly used the money for: travel, say police. "When we arrested him, he was due to go on an Alaskan cruise, then he was going to go to Russia and then China," says Rossman, who added that Pollara had a special thank-you for CVS, which he says footed the bill for a March 2012 Hawaii trip.
  • What he didn't spend money on: housecleaning. Pollara, who lives with his self-dubbed "cat family" and his mother, was arrested at home; Rossman described the house's condition as Hoarders-like.
  • What Pollara now says: He's been in jail for 10 months awaiting trial, and now says his statements were coerced. "My name is slandered all over the Internet as the 'Toys 'R' Us kid,'" he wrote in one letter sent to the judge.

Among the items allegedly stolen: Legos.
Among the items allegedly stolen: Legos.   (©)
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