AIEA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Investigators call him a "one man wrecking crew".
Authorities say a Florida man launched a cross-country crime spree - even coming here to Hawaii - and allegedly stole millions of dollars worth of merchandise from retailers. A court affidavit says he did have an accomplice - his 70 year old mother.
Florida documents list Hawaii's Toys R Us as one of dozens, nationwide, targeted by 46 year old Michael Pollara.
At a Broward County Sheriff's Department news conference, a deputy describes store surveillance video, "They're going to start stuffing the expensive items into the box - which they've already removed the contents from."
The surveillance video shows Pollara allegedly "box stuffing" - where he removes the contents of an inexpensive item, hides it somewhere in the store, and refills the box with higher-ticket merchandise. He's then charged the cheaper price. Detectives say he sells the high-value items on ebay.
Sgt. Rich Rossman of the sheriff's department says, "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."
Hawaii News Now asked Toys R Us for comment on what may have occurred locally. They directed us to authorities. Pollara's luck apparently ran out when an alert Florida employee noticed missing merchandise. He'd been using a rewards card with purchases - making it easier for authorities to track him down. They claim his cross-country shopping spree included other major store chains.
"The financial impact of this - just talking to a couple of retailers, is 4-5 million," says Sgt. Rossman.
Authorities say Pollara did not act alone - oftentimes, using his 70 year old mother, Margaret, as a lookout. The mother-son duo went to court on charges of grand theft.
"It says that you obtained the property of Toys R Us, three Harry Potter Legos," a judge explained to Margaret Pollara, via closed-circuit court TV. "No," says the elder Pollara. The judge continued, "The value of $449." "No, sir," she answered.
Authorities say Michael Pollara liked to travel, and his scheme helped finance trips around the world. They believe his crimes spanned more than a decade and estimate he profited about one million dollars in that time.