EAGLE LAKE, FL (WFLA) – Polk County Sheriff’s Office detectives are calling a Polk County woman a Grinch for stealing from “Toys for Tots.”
Deputies Detectives arrested a former volunteer for the organization after detectives say she filed 28 bogus applications to get free toys from the popular charity.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said Tammy Strickland, of Eagle Lake, would have potentially kept toys that should have gone to more than 140 children.
Detectives got a tip that Strickland had kept toys that were intended for children in need. Detectives began investigating Strickland’s association with “Toys for Tots” and learned Strickland submitted a large number of applications requesting assistance from the organization on behalf of dozens of children.
They say Strickland listed herself as the contact person on each application. Detectives found out the applications were counterfeit. They say Strickland used 140 fictitious children’s names and 28 fictitious adult names on falsified Toys of Tots applications.
Detectives worked undercover and arranged to meet Strickland to collect the toys for the children she listed on the applications. Strickland was arrested after she loaded the toys in a utility trailer. Strickland’s vehicle, a 2005 Cadillac Escalade, was seized.
Judd held a news conference about the thefts on Tuesday morning.
Toys that were found at Strickland’s home were on display at the news conference. Detectives believe the toys were stolen from 2015 to 2016.
Sheriff Judd said that Strickland was also collecting government assistance.
Strickland was charged with grand theft, 28 counts of providing a false statement to obtain credit or property, obtaining property by fraud and 164 counts of possessing counterfeit ID.