Michael Pollara, Margaret Pollara
By Douglas Stanglin, USA TODAY
(USA TODAY) - An elderly Florida mother and her son have been arrested on charges of stealing more than $2 million in toys and other merchandise in an alleged scam that included 139 Toys R Us stores and other stores in 27 states, NBC4 Miami reports.
Michael Pollara, 46, and his 70-year-old mother, Margaret Pollara, were charged with stealing merchandise from 31 Toy R Us stores in Florida alone.
Authorities alleged that the pair would shoplift using the "box stuffing" method that involves emptying the box of a cheaper item in the store and filling it with more expensive goods.
They would then pay the box's lower sticker price at checkout.
Authorities charged that the son usually switched the toys while his mother acted as a lookout, the Associated Press reports.
The goods were then allegedly sold online, the AP reports. At the time of the arrest, according to court documents, Pollara had more than $900,000 in eBay and PayPal accounts.
Authorities said they were able to track the son's movements across the country because he used a Toys R Us rewards card for his purchases.
According to a detective's arrest affidavit, Pollara favored emptying a "Big Adventure Raceway" box and filling it up with high-priced goods like software or LEGO items.
The task force that caught the pair alleged that the son had been stealing from retailers like Target and Walmart for a decade, raking in an estimated million dollars.
NBC4, quoting authorities, said Pollara told detectives that he made so much money from just CVS stores that he was able to take a nice vacation to to Hawaii.
"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," Broward County Sheriff's Sgt. Rich Rossman said, according to NBC4.