'Lego Bandit' serial shoplifter found guilty in DuPage County
One of Florida's most notorious shoplifters is now likely to spend time in an Illinois prison before being sent back to his home state.
DuPage County Judge Liam Brennan on Monday convicted Ignatius Pollara, 51, of three counts of burglary and two counts of retail theft following a sometimes raucous weeklong bench trial during which Pollara had several outbursts and at one point was placed in a soundproof box after shouting at a witness.
The Tamarac, Florida, resident has been held on $125,000 bond since his arrest on July 3, 2015, when police say they caught him stealing about $80 in art pencils and paint brushes from a Lombard Hobby Lobby.
In Florida, Pollara is known as the "Toys 'R' Us Kid" and the "Lego Bandit." He was convicted in a 2012 burglary spree in which he stole more than $2 million in Lego sets and toys from the Toys "R" Us chain.
Downers Grove police Sgt. Jeremy Thayer testified that he was tipped off from a source in Florida on July 1 that Pollara would be flying into O'Hare the next day. A team of more than 10 police and loss prevention officers from Toys "R" Us and CVS chains was assembled to follow Pollara from the moment he stepped off the airplane.
Most of the trial's testimony was from members of the detail who recounted how they followed Pollara inside and out of more than 21 stores in a 24-hour period before ultimately arresting him in the parking lot of the Hobby Lobby.
After Pollara's arrest, a warrant allowing officers to search Pollara's rental car turned up receipts for several small purchases Pollara made, but also other items that appeared to be stolen from the same stores.
The prosecution and defense rested Friday afternoon when Pollara half-hugged Assistant Public Defender Mark Lyon, with whom he has had a rocky relationship, and declined to testify.
"For once, your honor, I'm going to take my attorney's advice and not testify," Pollara said.
Throughout the case's history, Pollara has been cited three times for criminal contempt of court, often for profane courtroom outbursts. Most recently, Pollara was cited after threatening a prosecution witness and calling her obscene names.
Pollara is scheduled to be sentenced at 9 a.m. on April 24.