Florida police nab ‘Grinch’ accused of stealing from Toys for Tots
FLORIDA — Dr. Seuss himself would agree it was an “awful idea.”
So much so it has landed a Florida woman in jail for being the ultimate Grinch, according to police.
Tammy Strickland, 38, is accused of masterminding an elaborate scam to steal donations from Toys for Tots, the United States Marine Corps Reserve charity that gives toys to children whose families cannot afford them.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd announced her arrest in a news conference Tuesday.
He held up a photo of the sinister green cartoon character who tries to steal Christmas.
“This is really not the Grinch,” he said before raising a second photo of Strickland’s mugshot.
“This is the Grinch.”
A ticket to ‘Grinch city’
Strickland is accused of filling fraudulent applications for non-existent children and adults to receive toys from the program — a lot of them.
Detectives believe Strickland used at least 250 fake names on applications in 2015 and 2016, the department said in a statement.
Police arrested her on Monday in an undercover sting at a Toys for Tots warehouse, Judd said in his Tuesday news conference.
Detectives arranged to meet her there to collect toys for applications she submitted. She showed up in a 2005 Cadillac Escalade with a utility trailer attached to carry the toys.
“Do you hear me?” Judd emphasized. “She drove up in her Cadillac.”
Detectives told Strickland her bail would amount to about $180,000.
“Well, I guess I’m not going anywhere,” she responded, according to Judd.
“Well, yeah, Tammy, you are going someplace,” Judd said. “You are going where we lock up Grinches. It’s called the county jail, or Grinch city.”
Detectives served a search warrant on Strickland’s home and found 118 unwrapped toys still in their packaging. A witness in the home said the toys were from Toys For Tots, the department’s statement said.
“Tammy Strickland spent a long time filling out fraudulent applications for non-existent children to receive toys. And when she arrived at the Toys for Tots warehouse to collect those toys, this Grinch was arrested. Now she’ll be spending a lot of time in jail.”
It was not immediately clear if Strickland has an attorney, but efforts by CNN to reach a legal representative for her were unsuccessful Thursday.